Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 103, Issue 3, pp 141–151 | Cite as

Excitation energy pathways in the photosynthetic units of reaction center LM- and H-subunit deletion mutants of Rhodospirillum rubrum

  • Sergiu Amarie
  • Domenico Lupo
  • Martin O. Lenz
  • Rudolf Saegesser
  • Robin Ghosh
  • Josef Wachtveitl
Regular Paper


Light-induced reaction dynamics of isolated photosynthetic membranes obtained from wild-type (WT) and reaction center (RC)-subunit deletion strains SPUHK1 (an H-subunit deletion mutant) and SKΔLM (an (L+M) deletion mutant) of the purple non-sulphur bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum have been investigated by femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy. Upon excitation of the spirilloxanthin (Spx) S2 state at 546 nm, of the bacteriochlorophyll Soret band at 388 nm and probing spectral regions, which are characteristic for carotenoids, similar dynamics in the SPUHK1, SKΔLM and WT strains could be observed. The excitation of Spx S2 is followed by the simultaneous population of the lower singlet excited states S1 and S* which decay with lifetimes of 1.4 and 5 ps, respectively for the mutants, and 1.4 and 4 ps, respectively, for the wild-type. The excitation of the BChl Soret band is followed by relaxation into BChl lower excited states which compete with excitation energy transfer BChl-to-Spx. The deexcitation pathway BChl(Soret) → Spx(S2) → Spx(S1) occurs with the same transition rate for all investigated samples (WT, SPUHK1 and SKΔLM). The kinetic traces measured for the Spx S1 → SN transition display similar behaviour for all samples showing a positive signal which increases within the first 400 fs (i.e. the time needed for the excitation energy to reach the Spx S1 excited state) and decays with a lifetime of about 1.5 ps. This suggests that the Spx excited state dynamics in the investigated complexes do not differ significantly. Moreover, a longer excited state lifetime of BChl for SPUHK1 in comparison to WT was observed, consistent with a photochemical quenching channel present in the presence of RC. For long delay times, photobleaching of the RC special pair and an electrochromic blue shift of the monomeric BChl a can be observed only for the WT but not for the mutants. The close similarity of the excited state decay processes of all strains indicates that the pigment geometry of the LH1 complex in native membranes is unaffected by the presence of an RC and allows us to draw a model representation of the WT, SKΔLM and SPUHK1 PSU complexes.


Bacterial photosynthesis Excitation energy transfer Transient absorption Bacteriochlorophyll Spirilloxanthin 



Light-harvesting complex 1


Reaction center






Photosynthetic unit




Excited state absorption


Transient absorption


Excitation energy transfer


Cryoelectron microscopy


Atomic force microscopy


Single molecule



This work has been supported by the SFB 472 (“Molecular Bioenergetics”), as well as by the “Center for Membrane Proteomics” of the University of Frankfurt. R.G also acknowledges support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant. no. WR 28/13-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergiu Amarie
    • 1
  • Domenico Lupo
    • 2
  • Martin O. Lenz
    • 1
  • Rudolf Saegesser
    • 2
  • Robin Ghosh
    • 2
  • Josef Wachtveitl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Institute of BiophysicsJohann Wolfgang Goethe-University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Department of Bioenergetics, Institute of BiologyUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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