Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



New Phytologist (2023)

doi: 10.1111/nph.18980


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License,


• Photoprotection against excess light via nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) is indispensable for plant survival. However, slow NPQ relaxation under low light conditions can decrease yield of field-grown crops up to 40%.

• Using semi-high-throughput assay, we quantified the kinetics of NPQ and photosystem II operating efficiency (ΦPSII) in a replicated field trial of more than 700 maize (Zea mays) genotypes across 2 yr. Parametrized kinetics data were used to conduct genome-wide association studies.

• For six candidate genes involved in NPQ and ΦPSII kinetics in maize the loss of function alleles of orthologous genes in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) were characterized: two thioredoxin genes, and genes encoding a transporter in the chloroplast envelope, an initiator of chloroplast movement, a putative regulator of cell elongation and stomatal patterning, and a protein involved in plant energy homeostasis.

• Since maize and Arabidopsis are distantly related, we propose that genes involved in photoprotection and PSII function are conserved across vascular plants. The genes and naturally occurring functional alleles identified here considerably expand the toolbox to achieving a sustainable increase in crop productivity.