The cyanobacterium sp. strain PCC 7601 drastically changes phycobiliprotein composition and colour in response to light quality, through complementary chromatic adaptation (CCA). Red light promotes phycocyanin-II and inhibits phycoerythrin synthesis, while green light has the opposite effect, through changes in transcription regulated by a putative green/red photoreceptor(s). The effects of CCA on photosynthesis were characterized by measuring oxygen evolution and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters. Cells fully acclimated to either red or green light achieve a similar photosynthetic quantum yield of oxygen evolution (light-use efficiency). Shifting acclimated cells from green to red or from red to green light caused similar 40% drops in photosynthetic quantum yield. Therefore, full CCA significantly increases light use efficiency, which is of great importance under light-limited growth. Cells growing under red light are in state I, with very low PS II to PS I energy transfer, since red light is absorbed both by phycocyanin in the phycobilisome/PS II supracomplex and by PS I chlorophyll. Cells growing under green light are in state II, with high transfer of excitation energy from the phycobilisome/PS II supracomplex to PS I. This transfer allows green light captured by phycoerythrin to ultimately drive both PS I and PS II photochemistry.


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