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Models and measurements of energy-dependent quenching


Energy-dependent quenching (qE) in photosystem II (PSII) is a pH-dependent response that enables plants to regulate light harvesting in response to rapid fluctuations in light intensity. In this review, we aim to provide a physical picture for understanding the interplay between the triggering of qE by a pH gradient across the thylakoid membrane and subsequent changes in PSII. We discuss how these changes alter the energy transfer network of chlorophyll in the grana membrane and allow it to switch between an unquenched and quenched state. Within this conceptual framework, we describe the biochemical and spectroscopic measurements and models that have been used to understand the mechanism of qE in plants with a focus on measurements of samples that perform qE in response to light. In addition, we address the outstanding questions and challenges in the field. One of the current challenges in gaining a full understanding of qE is the difficulty in simultaneously measuring both the photophysical mechanism of quenching and the physiological state of the thylakoid membrane. We suggest that new experimental and modeling efforts that can monitor the many processes that occur on multiple timescales and length scales will be important for elucidating the quantitative details of the mechanism of qE.

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