Background. Plant performance is affected by the level of expression of PsbS, a key photoprotective protein involved in the process of feedback de-excitation (FDE), or the qE component of non-photochemical quenching, NPQ. Results. In studies presented here, under constant laboratory conditions the metabolite profiles of leaves of wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana and plants lacking or overexpressing PsbS were very similar, but under natural conditions their differences in levels of PsbS expression were associated with major changes in metabolite profiles. Some carbohydrates and amino acids differed ten-fold in abundance between PsbS-lacking mutants and over-expressers, with wild-type plants having intermediate amounts, showing that a metabolic shift had occurred. The transcriptomes of the genotypes also varied under field conditions, and the genes induced in plants lacking PsbS were similar to those reportedly induced in plants exposed to ozone stress or treated with methyl jasmonate (MeJA). Genes involved in the biosynthesis of JA were up-regulated, and enzymes involved in this pathway accumulated. JA levels in the undamaged leaves of field-grown plants did not differ between wild-type and PsbS-lacking mutants, but they were higher in the mutants when they were exposed to herbivory. Conclusion. These findings suggest that lack of FDE results in increased photooxidative stress in the chloroplasts of Arabidopsis plants grown in the field, which elicits a response at the transcriptome level, causing a redirection of metabolism from growth towards defence that resembles a MeJA/JA response.
2009. Vol. 9, 12- p.