Ganeteg U, Külheim C, Andersson J, Jansson S
Is each light-harvesting complex protein important for plant fitness?
Plant Physiol: 2004 134:502-509
Many of the photosynthetic genes are conserved among all higher plants, indicating that there is strong selective pressure to maintain the genes of each protein. However, mutants of these genes often lack visible growth phenotypes, suggesting that they are important only under certain conditions or have overlapping functions. To assess the importance of specific genes encoding the light-harvesting complex (LHC) proteins for the survival of the plant in the natural environment, we have combined two different scientific traditions by using an ecological fitness assay on a set of genetically modified Arabidopsis plants with differing LHC protein contents. The fitness of all of the LHC-deficient plants was reduced in some of the growth environments, supporting the hypothesis that each of the genes has been conserved because they provide ecological flexibility, which is of great adaptive value given the highly variable conditions encountered in nature.
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