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We have constructed Arabidopsis thaliana plants that are virtually devoid of the major light-harvesting complex, LHC II. This was accomplished by introducing the Lhcb2.1 coding region in the antisense orientation into the genome by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Lhcb1 and Lhcb2 were absent, while Lhcb3, a protein present in LHC II associated with photosystem (PS) II, was retained. Plants had a pale green appearance and showed reduced chlorophyll content and an elevated chlorophyll a/b ratio. The content of PS II reaction centres was unchanged on a leaf area basis, but there was evidence for increases in the relative levels of other light harvesting proteins, notably CP26, associated with PS II, and Lhca4, associated with PS I. Electron microscopy showed the presence of grana. Photosynthetic rates at saturating irradiance were the same in wild-type and antisense plants, but there was a 10-15% reduction in quantum yield that reflected the decrease in light absorption by the leaf. The antisense plants were not able to perform state transitions, and their capacity for non-photochemical quenching was reduced. There was no difference in growth between wild-type and antisense plants under controlled climate conditions, but the antisense plants performed worse compared to the wild type in the field, with decreases in seed production of up to 70%.

Original publication




Journal article


Plant J

Publication Date





350 - 361


Arabidopsis, Arabidopsis Proteins, Base Sequence, Chlorophyll, DNA, Antisense, DNA, Plant, Feedback, Gene Silencing, Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes, Microscopy, Electron, Photosynthesis, Photosystem II Protein Complex, Thylakoids, Transformation, Genetic