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Acclimatory responses of Arabidopsis to photo-oxidative stress

Maria Paola Puggioni

In natural environments photosynthetic organisms are exposed to heterogeneous environmental factors and experience constantly changing conditions that affect their physiology, productivity and fitness. Sunlight intensity can change quickly, dramatically and persistently. When absorbed light energy exceeds the photosynthetic utilization capacity of plants (excess light), production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and consequently photo-oxidative stress could damage cell constituents. Thus, plants have evolved many strategies to adapt their physiology, regulate photosynthesis dynamically and protect the photosynthetic apparatus against excess light energy and ROS to survive and prosper under changing environments. In my PhD project I study long-term strategies of plants to acclimate their photosynthetic apparatus to fluctuations of light. In our previous study many differentially expressed genes have been identified in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana under fluctuating light conditions compared to constant light conditions. Starting from these differentially expressed genes I investigate the roles of potential candidate genes in regulating the long-term acclimation to photo-oxidative stress induced by excess light. Besides individual genes and proteins, I also would like to address the questions about functional interactions between these components and the mechanisms by which such a cellular network responds to changing environments.