Rieske FeS overexpression in tobacco provides increased abundance and activity of cytochrome b6f

Eiri Heyno*, Maria Ermakova*, Patricia E. Lopez-Calcagno, Russell Woodford, Kenny L. Brown, Jack S.A. Matthews, Barry Osmond, Christine A. Raines, Susanne von Caemmerer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Photosynthesis is fundamental for plant growth and yield. The cytochrome b6f complex catalyses a rate-limiting step in thylakoid electron transport and therefore represents an important point of regulation of photosynthesis. Here we show that overexpression of a single core subunit of cytochrome b6f, the Rieske FeS protein, led to up to a 40% increase in the abundance of the complex in Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) and was accompanied by an enhanced in vitro cytochrome f activity, indicating a full functionality of the complex. Analysis of transgenic plants overexpressing Rieske FeS by the light-induced fluorescence transients technique revealed a more oxidised primary quinone acceptor of photosystem II (QA) and plastoquinone pool and faster electron transport from the plastoquinone pool to photosystem I upon changes in irradiance, compared to control plants. A faster establishment of qE, the energy-dependent component of nonphotochemical quenching, in transgenic plants suggests a more rapid buildup of the transmembrane proton gradient, also supporting the increased in vivo cytochrome b6f activity. However, there was no consistent increase in steady-state rates of electron transport or CO2 assimilation in plants overexpressing Rieske FeS grown in either laboratory conditions or field trials, suggesting that the in vivo activity of the complex was only transiently increased upon changes in irradiance. Our results show that overexpression of Rieske FeS in tobacco enhances the abundance of functional cytochrome b6f and may have the potential to increase plant productivity if combined with other traits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere13803
    JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


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