Short-term acclimation of the photosynthetic electron transfer chain to changing light: a mathematical model

Oliver Ebenhoeh, Geoffrey Fucile, Giovanni Finazzi, Jean-David Rochaix, Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic eukaryotes house two photosystems with distinct light absorption spectra. Natural fluctuations in light quality and quantity can lead to unbalanced or excess excitation, compromising photosynthetic efficiency and causing photodamage. Consequently, these organisms have acquired several distinct adaptive mechanisms, collectively referred to as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll fluorescence, which modulates the organization and function of the photosynthetic apparatus. The ability to monitor NPQ processes fluorometrically has led to substantial progress in elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms. However, the relative contribution of distinct NPQ mechanisms to variable light conditions in different photosynthetic eukaryotes remains unclear. Here, we present a mathematical model of the dynamic regulation of eukaryotic photosynthesis using ordinary differential equations. We demonstrate that, for Chlamydomonas, our model recapitulates the basic fluorescence features of short-term light acclimation known as state transitions and discuss how the model can be iteratively refined by comparison with physiological experiments to further our understanding of light acclimation in different species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130223
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1640
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2014


  • photosynthesis
  • light acclimation
  • state transitions
  • non-photochemical quenching
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • mathematical modelling
  • harvesting complex-II
  • diatom phaeodactylum-tricornutum
  • cytochrome BF complex
  • chlamydomonas-Reinhardtii
  • in-vivo
  • protein-phosphorylation
  • excitation-energy
  • photosystem-I
  • green plants


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