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How thylakoid membranes are generated to form a metabolically active membrane network and how thylakoid membranes orchestrate the insertion and localization of protein complexes for efficient electron flux remain elusive. Here, we develop a method to modulate thylakoid biogenesis in the rod-shaped cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 by modulating light intensity during cell growth, and probe the spatial-temporal stepwise biogenesis process of thylakoid membranes in cells. Our results reveal that the plasma membrane and regularly arranged concentric thylakoid layers have no physical connections. The newly synthesized thylakoid membrane fragments emerge between the plasma membrane and pre-existing thylakoids. Photosystem I monomers appear in the thylakoid membranes earlier than other mature photosystem assemblies, followed by generation of Photosystem I trimers and Photosystem II complexes. Redistribution of photosynthetic complexes during thylakoid biogenesis ensures establishment of the spatial organization of the functional thylakoid network. This study provides insights into the dynamic biogenesis process and maturation of the functional photosynthetic machinery.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature Communications

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