Editors' ChoicePlant biology

High and Low Lights for Photosynthesis

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Science's STKE  19 Jul 2005:
Vol. 2005, Issue 293, pp. tw266
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2932005tw266

For photosynthesis to remain efficient, the composition of the photosynthetic apparatus must change in response to light conditions. Scheuring and Sturgis used atomic force microscopy to examine the native membranes of a photosynthetic bacterium. Under high-light conditions, the membrane has an amorphous structure with homogeneously distributed reaction centers with light-harvesting antennae between them. Under low-light conditions, the amorphous structure is maintained, but extra light-harvesting antennae separate into paracrystalline domains. This structural adaptation prevents photodamage under high-light conditions but allows efficient photon capture under low-light conditions.

S. Scheuring, J. N. Sturgis, Chromatic adaptation of photosynthetic membranes. Science 309, 484-487 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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