The light reactions of photosynthesis are hosted and regulated by the chloroplast thylakoid membrane (TM) — the central structural component of the photosynthetic apparatus of plants and algae. The two-dimensional and three-dimensional arrangement of the lipid–protein assemblies, aka macroorganisation, and its dynamic responses to the fluctuating physiological environment, aka flexibility, are the subject of this review. An emphasis is given on the information obtainable by spectroscopic approaches, especially circular dichroism (CD). We briefly summarise the current knowledge of the composition and three-dimensional architecture of the granal TMs in plants and the supramolecular organisation of Photosystem II and light-harvesting complex II therein. We next acquaint the non-specialist reader with the fundamentals of CD spectroscopy, recent advances such as anisotropic CD, and applications for studying the structure and macroorganisation of photosynthetic complexes and membranes. Special attention is given to the structural and functional flexibility of light-harvesting complex II in vitro as revealed by CD and fluorescence spectroscopy. We give an account of the dynamic changes in membrane macroorganisation associated with the light-adaptation of the photosynthetic apparatus and the regulation of the excitation energy flow by state transitions and non-photochemical quenching.

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