Thylakoid proteome modulation in pea plants grown at different irradiances: quantitative proteomic profiling in a non‐model organism aided by transcriptomic data integration
Plant thylakoid membranes contain hundreds of proteins that closely interact to cope with ever‐changing environmental conditions. We investigated how Pisum sativum L. (pea) grown at different irradiances optimizes light‐use efficiency through the differential accumulation of thylakoid proteins. Thylakoid membranes from plants grown under low (LL), moderate (ML) and high (HL) light intensity were characterized by combining chlorophyll fluorescence measurements with quantitative label‐free proteomic analysis. Protein sequences retrieved from available transcriptomic data considerably improved thylakoid proteome profiling, increasing the quantifiable proteins from 63 to 194. The experimental approach used also demonstrates that this integrative omics strategy is powerful for unravelling protein isoforms and functions that are still unknown in non‐model organisms. We found that the different growth irradiances affect the electron transport kinetics but not the relative abundance of photosystems (PS) I and II. Two acclimation strategies were evident. The behaviour of plants acclimated to LL was compared at higher irradiances: (i) in ML, plants turn on photoprotective responses mostly modulating the PSII light‐harvesting capacity, either accumulating Lhcb4.3 or favouring the xanthophyll cycle; (ii) in HL, plants reduce the pool of light‐harvesting complex II and enhance the PSII repair cycle. When growing at ML and HL, plants accumulate ATP synthase, boosting both cyclic and linear electron transport by finely tuning the ΔpH across the membrane and optimizing protein trafficking by adjusting the thylakoid architecture. Our results provide a quantitative snapshot of how plants coordinate light harvesting, electron transport and protein synthesis by adjusting the thylakoid membrane proteome in a light‐dependent manner.
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