A sizeable decrease in the electric conductance of the thylakoid lumen as an early event during reaction center and Q cycle turnover

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A patch-clamp method was used for measuring light-induced currents (photocurrents) in single dark-adapted Peperomia metallica chloroplasts in a ’whole-thylakoid‘ configuration. The multi-phasic photocurrent profiles upon a train of multiple flashes (time separation between flashes in the train 1 s) show the following characteristics: (i) photocurrent generation originates from trans-thylakoid charge transfer accompanying reaction center (RC)- and Q-cycle turnover; (ii) a 15–30% decrease in the amplitude of the RC-driven current in the second and following flashes, concomitantly with an increase in the dark recovery time of the current; and (iii) a binary oscillation of the Q-cycle current generator with high activity in even numbered flashes. The decrease in amplitude and decay rate constant of the photocurrent in a double flash after dark adaptation are interpreted in terms of a change in the electric conductance of the thylakoid lumen. Data are interpreted to indicate a light control of the thylakoid lumen via a narrowing of the planar sheet-like structures by 1 to 3 single turnover flashes. A simple method is given to determine the bioenergetic and electric parameters of the thylakoid membrane of a single chloroplast from the current profiles in a double flash. The data indicate that 1 s after a saturating flash the fraction of closed inactive centers is less than 3%.

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