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Formation of light-harvesting complexes of photosystem II in Scenedesmus

I. Correlations between amounts of photosynthetic pigments, Lhc messenger RNAs and LHC apoproteins during constitutional dark- and light-dependent Lhc-gene expression

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The patterns of accumulation of photosynthetic pigments, mRNAs transcribed from the genes encoding chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins (Lhc mRNAs), and light-harvesting complex (LHC) apoproteins have been compared in dark- and light-grown cells of wild-type (WT) Scenedesmus obliquus and the mutants WT-LHC1, C-6D, C-6E, C-2A′, C-2A′-LHC1 and C-2A′-LHC2. In contrast to the WT, which developed the complete photosynthetic apparatus in darkness, mutant strains exhibited either a lack of chlorophyll (Chl) b, carotenoids or LHC formation, or a light requirement for the synthesis of Chls or carotenoids. Accumulation of LHC apoproteins strictly depended on the presence of Chl a and carotenoids. The formation of a functional light-harvesting complex additionally required Chl b. Amounts of Lhc mRNAs of dark-grown mutant cells exceeded those of the WT. Thus, accumulation of Lhc mRNAs was independent of Chl and carotenoid synthesis and of chloroplast development. Transcripts of 1.4 and 1.6 kb accumulated constitutionally during growth in darkness. Illumination increased the amounts of these mRNAs and, additionally, a 1.8-kb Lhc mRNA appeared. Hence, light altered the expression of Lhc genes both quantitatively and qualitatively. Ratios of Chl a/Lhc mRNA, Chl a/LHC apoprotein and Lhc mRNA/LHC apoprotein were identical in the greening mutants C-6D, C-2A′, C-2A′-LHC1, and C-2A′-LHC2 after 8 h illumination. Light-independent accumulation of Lhc mRNAs, by contrast, was not correlated with the amounts of either Chl a or LHC apoproteins.

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light-harvesting complex

Lhc genes:

genes encoding the chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins of the light-harvesting complexes

Lhc mRNA:

messenger RNA transcribed from the Lhc genes


packed cell volume


photosystem I, II


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Correspondence to Horst Senger.

Additional information

We thank Prof. Klaus Apel (Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften, Pflanzengenetik, ETH Zentrum, Zürich, Switzerland) for providing us with the CP II-antiserum and Dr. Udo Johanningmeier (Fakultät für Biologie, Ruhr Universität, Bochum, Germany) for the generous gift of the Chlamydomonas Lhcb2-gene probe. Mutants were produced and kindly provided by Prof. Norman I. Bishop (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA). We thank Brigitte Böhm and Jutta Gade for technical assistance. Support for the project by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Sonderforschungsbereich 305, B1) is gratefully acknowledged.

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Hermsmeier, D., Schulz, R. & Senger, H. Formation of light-harvesting complexes of photosystem II in Scenedesmus . Planta 193, 398–405 (1994).

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Key words

  • Gene expression (Lhc)
  • Light and gene expression
  • Light-harvesting complex
  • Mutant
  • Scenedesmus