Thermoluminescence from the photosynthetic apparatus

Imre Vass, Govindjee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

108 Citations (Scopus)


One of the fundamental discoveries of W. Arnold was the detection of thermally stimulated light emission from preilluminated photosynthetic material (Arnold and Sherwood (1957) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 43: 105-114). This phenomenon, called thermoluminescence (TL), is characteristic of a wide range of materials (semiconductors, minerals, inorganic and organic crystals, and complex biological systems such as the photosynthetic apparatus) which share the common ability of storing radiant energy in thermally stabilized trap states. The original discovery of TL in dried chloroplasts later proved to be a phenomenon common to all photosynthetic organisms: photosynthetic bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae and higher plants. Following the pioneering work of Arnold, considerable effort has been devoted to identification and characterization of photosynthetic TL components. This work has firmly established the participation of various redox states of the water-oxidizing complex and the quinone electron acceptors of Photosystem II in the generation of photosynthetic glow curves. Since TL characteristics are very sensitive to subtle changes in redox properties of the involved electron transport components, the TL method has become a powerful tool in probing a wide range of PS II redox reactions. In this paper, we will review the impact of Arnold's work in initiating and promoting TL studies in photosynthesis and will cover the most important developments of this field of research until the present day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Photosystem II
  • W.A. Arnold
  • delayed luminescence
  • electron transport
  • thermoluminescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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