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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

An alternative carotenoid-to-bacteriochlorophyll energy transfer pathway in photosynthetic light harvesting.

Blue and green sunlight become available for photosynthetic energy conversion through the light-harvesting (LH) function of carotenoids, which involves transfer of carotenoid singlet excited states to nearby (bacterio)chlorophylls (BChls). The excited-state manifold of carotenoids usually is described in terms of two singlet states, S(1) and S(2), of which only the latter can be populated from the ground state by the absorption of one photon. Both states are capable of energy transfer to (B)Chl. We recently showed that in the LH1 complex of the purple bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum, which is rather inefficient in carotenoid-to-BChl energy transfer, a third additional carotenoid excited singlet state is formed. This state, which we termed S*, was found to be a precursor on an ultrafast fission reaction pathway to carotenoid triplet state formation. Here we present evidence that S* is formed with significant yield in the LH2 complex of Rhodobacter sphaeroides, which has a highly efficient carotenoid LH function. We demonstrate that S* is actively involved in the energy transfer process to BChl and thus have uncovered an alternative pathway of carotenoid-to-BChl energy transfer. In competition with energy transfer to BChl, fission occurs from S*, leading to ultrafast formation of carotenoid triplets. Analysis in terms of a kinetic model indicates that energy transfer through S* accounts for 10-15% of the total energy transfer to BChl, and that inclusion of this pathway is necessary to obtain a highly efficient LH function of carotenoids.[1]


  1. An alternative carotenoid-to-bacteriochlorophyll energy transfer pathway in photosynthetic light harvesting. Papagiannakis, E., Kennis, J.T., van Stokkum, I.H., Cogdell, R.J., van Grondelle, R. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2002) [Pubmed]
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