Sunlight is one of the most necessary components required by plants in order to produce their own food. However, we often see plants wilting or even dying during the excess heat during summers. Hence, sunlight can be a double-edged sword for plants. Whereas on the one hand, it helps them in the process of photosynthesis, on the other, it dehydrates leaves which is harmful to plants. So how do plants survive such situations?
Thus, plants also follow a strategy in order to save themselves from such photodamage. They usually dissipate extra light in the form of heat. There has been wide debate regarding this tactic achieved by plants.
Gabriela Schlau-Cohen, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemistry at MIT say “During photosynthesis, light-harvesting complexes play two seemingly contradictory roles. They absorb energy to drive water-splitting and photosynthesis, but at the same time, when there’s too much energy, they have to also be able to get rid of it…”
In a new study, researchers have observed for the first time, one of the possible mechanisms through which plants dissipate heat.
A highly sensitive type of spectroscopy was used to determine the excess energy which is transferred from the chlorophyll to other pigments called carotenoids which release the energy in form of heat.
Schlau-Cohen, who is the senior author of the study, says, “This is the first direct observation of chlorophyll-to-carotenoid energy transfer in the light-harvesting complex of green plants…”. “That’s the simplest proposal, but no one’s been able to find this photophysical pathway until now,” he adds.
There has been extensive research in this field and in case you need more information regarding this.