The “Z‐scheme” describes the oxidation/reduction changes during the light reactions of photosynthesis. The vertical axis in the figure represents the reduction potential of a particular species—the higher the position of a molecular species, the more negative its reduction potential, and the more easily it donates electrons. See Figure 1 .
In the Z‐scheme, electrons are removed from water (to the left) and then donated to the lower (non‐excited) oxidized form of P680. Absorption of a photon excites P680 to P680*, which “jumps” to a more actively reducing species. P680* donates its electron to the quinone‐cytochrome bf chain, with proton pumping. The electron from cytochrome bf is donated to PSI, converting P700 to P700*. This electron, along with others, is transferred to NADP, forming NADPH. Alternatively, this electron can go back to cytochrome bf in cyclic electron flow.