Bi-directional electron transfer between H2 and NADPH mitigates light fluctuation responses in green algae

Yuval Milrad, Shira Schweitzer, Yael Feldman, Iftach Yacoby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The metabolism of green algae has been the focus of much research over the last century. These photosynthetic organisms can thrive under various conditions and adapt quickly to changing environments by concomitant usage of several metabolic apparatuses. The main electron coordinator in their chloroplasts, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), participates in many enzymatic activities and is also responsible for inter-organellar communication. Under anaerobic conditions, green algae also accumulate molecular hydrogen (H2), a promising alternative for fossil fuels. However, to scale-up its accumulation, a firm understanding of its integration in the photosynthetic apparatus is still required. While it is generally accepted that NADPH metabolism correlates to H2 accumulation, the mechanism of this collaboration is still vague and relies on indirect measurements. Here, we investigated this connection in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using simultaneous measurements of both dissolved gases concentration, NADPH fluorescence and electrochromic shifts at 520-546 nm. Our results indicate that energy transfer between H2 and NADPH is bi-directional and crucial for the maintenance of redox balance under light fluctuations. At light onset, NADPH consumption initially eventuates in H2 evolution, which initiates the photosynthetic electron flow. Later on, as illumination continues the majority of NADPH is diverted to the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle. Dark onset triggers re-assimilation of H2, which produces NADPH and so, enables initiation of dark fermentative metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-179
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2021


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1646/16


    Dive into the research topics of 'Bi-directional electron transfer between H2 and NADPH mitigates light fluctuation responses in green algae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this