Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 120, Issue 1–2, pp 29–42 | Cite as

George Feher: a pioneer in reaction center research

  • Melvin Okamura


Our understanding of photosynthesis has been greatly advanced by the elucidation of the structure and function of the reaction center (RC), the membrane protein responsible for the initial light-induced charge separation in photosynthetic bacteria and green plants. Although today we know a great deal about the details of the primary processes in photosynthesis, little was known in the early days. George Feher made pioneering contributions to photosynthesis research in characterizing RCs from photosynthetic bacteria following the ground-breaking work of Lou Duysens and Rod Clayton (see articles in this issue by van Gorkom and Wraight). The work in his laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, started in the late 1960s and continued for over 30 years. He isolated a pure RC protein and used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the primary reactants. Following this pioneering work, Feher studied the detailed structure of the RC and the basic electron and proton transfer functions that it performs using a wide variety of biophysical and biochemical techniques. These studies, together with work from many other researchers, have led to our present detailed understanding of these proteins and their function in photosynthesis. The present article is a brief historical account of his pioneering contributions to photosynthesis research. A more detailed description of his work can be found in an earlier biographical paper (Feher in Photosynth Res 55:1–40, 1998a).


Feher Photosynthesis Reaction center Historical Review 



I would like to thank George Feher for his guidance, support, and friendship over the course of 30 years of reaction center research. His vision and leadership has led to advances in photosynthesis and has been an inspiration to many generations of students, postdocs, and collaborators.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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