Light harvesting in oxygenic photosynthesis: Structural biology meets spectroscopy

Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 13:01 in Physics & Chemistry

Oxygenic photosynthesis is the main process that drives life on earth. It starts with the harvesting of solar photons that, after transformation into electronic excitations, lead to charge separation in the reaction centers of photosystems I and II (PSI and PSII). These photosystems are large, modular pigment-protein complexes that work in series to fuel the formation of carbohydrates, concomitantly producing molecular oxygen. Recent advances in cryo–electron microscopy have enabled the determination of PSI and PSII structures in complex with light-harvesting components called "supercomplexes" from different organisms at near-atomic resolution. Here, we review the structural and spectroscopic aspects of PSI and PSII from plants and algae that directly relate to their light-harvesting properties, with special attention paid to the pathways and efficiency of excitation energy transfer and the regulatory aspects.

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