The cytochrome b6f complex (b6f) has been initially considered as the ferredoxin-plastoquinone reductase (FQR) during cyclic electron flow (CEF) with photosystem I that is inhibited by antimycin A (AA). The binding of AA to the b6f Qi-site is aggravated by heme-ci, which challenged the FQR function of b6f during CEF. Alternative models suggest that PROTON GRADIENT REGULATION5 (PGR5) is involved in a b6f-independent, AA-sensitive FQR. Here, we show in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that the b6f is conditionally inhibited by AA in vivo and that the inhibition did not require PGR5. Instead, activation of the STT7 kinase upon anaerobic treatment induced the AA sensitivity of b6f which was absent from stt7-1. However, a lock in State 2 due to persisting phosphorylation in the phosphatase double mutant pph1;pbcp did not increase AA sensitivity of electron transfer. The latter required a redox poise, supporting the view that state transitions and CEF are not coercively coupled. This suggests that the b6f-interacting kinase is required for structure-function modulation of the Qi-site under CEF favoring conditions. We propose that PGR5 and STT7 independently sustain AA-sensitive FQR activity of the b6f. Accordingly, PGR5-mediated electron injection into an STT7-modulated Qi-site drives a Mitchellian Q cycle in CEF conditions.

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