Carotenoids are essential in oxygenic photosynthesis: they stabilize the pigment-protein complexes, are active in harvesting sunlight and in photoprotection. In plants, they are present as carotenes and their oxygenated derivatives, xanthophylls. While mutant plants lacking xanthophylls are capable of photoautotrophic growth, no plants without carotenes in their photosystems have been reported so far, which has led to the common opinion that carotenes are essential for photosynthesis. Here, we report the first plant that grows photoautotrophically in the absence of carotenes: a tobacco plant containing only the xanthophyll astaxanthin. Surprisingly, both photosystems are fully functional despite their carotenoid-binding sites being occupied by astaxanthin instead of β-carotene or remaining empty (i.e., are not occupied by carotenoids). These plants display non-photochemical quenching, despite the absence of both zeaxanthin and lutein and show that tobacco can regulate the ratio between the two photosystems in a very large dynamic range to optimize electron transport.
All data used for this study are included in the manuscript or in the supporting information. The source data used to generate figure S7 are provided.
- Roberta Croce
- Roberta Croce
- Ralph Bock
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- David M Kramer, Michigan State University, United States
© 2020, Xu et al.
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