Photosynthesis: The Calvin Cycle


The Calvin cycle is a reductive process in the stroma of chloroplasts responsible for the synthesis of carbohydrates from carbon dioxide. The reactions are organized in a cyclic metabolic pathway that was named after its discoverer Melvin Calvin who received the Nobel Price for Chemistry in 1961. Reducing power in the form of NADPH (nicotinamide‐adenine dinucleotide phosphate reduced form) and energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) required for this process are generated in the light reactions located in the thylakoid membrane. Light activation of this process is achieved by covalent redox‐modification of some key enzymes that are inactive in the dark.

Keywords: assimilation; Calvin cycle; light activation; thioredoxin

Figure 1.

Overview of the basic reactions of the Calvin cycle.

Figure 2.

Carboxylase and oxygenase reaction of RubisCO.

Figure 3.

Conversion of 1,3‐Bisphosphoglycerate to Triose‐phosphate.

Figure 4.

Regeneration of pentose phosphates from friose phosphates.

Figure 5.

The thioredoxin‐mediated light‐modulation of chloroplast enzymes.

Figure 6.

Fine‐tuning of light‐activation of chloroplast fructose 1,6‐bisphosphatase (FBPase), NADP‐dependent malate dehydrogenase (NADP‐MDH) and glucose 6‐phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) by effector.


Further Reading

Buchanan BB and Balmer Y (2005) Redox‐regulation: a broadening horizon. Annual Reviews of Plant Biology 56: 187–220.

Heldt HW (1997) Plant Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Portis AR (2003) Rubisco activase – Rubisco's catalytic chaperone. Photosynthesis Research 75: 11–27.

Scheibe R (1991) Redox‐modulation of chloroplast enzymes. A common principle for individual control. Plant Physiology 96: 1–3.

Scheibe R (2004) Malate valves to balance energy supply. Physiologia Plantarum 120: 21–26.

Scheibe R, Backhausen JE, Emmerlich V and Holtgrefe S (2005) Strategies to maintain redox homeostasis during photosynthesis under changing conditions. Journal of Experimental Botany 56: 1481–1489.

Schürmann P and Jacquot J‐P (2000) Plant thioredoxin systems revisited. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology 51: 371–400.

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Heineke, Dieter, and Scheibe, Renate(Mar 2009) Photosynthesis: The Calvin Cycle. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001291.pub2]