Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 60, Issue 2–3, pp 111–150

The role of trace metals in photosynthetic electron transport in O2-evolving organisms

  • John A. Raven
  • Michael C. W. Evans
  • Rebecca E. Korb


Iron is the quantitatively most important trace metal involved in thylakoid reactions of all oxygenic organisms since linear (= non-cyclic) electron flow from H2O to NADP+ involves PS II (2–3 Fe), cytochrome b6-f (5 Fe), PS I (12 Fe), and ferredoxin (2 Fe); (replaceable by metal-free flavodoxin in certain cyanobacteria and algae under iron deficiency). Cytochrome c6 (1 Fe) is the only redox catalyst linking the cytochrome b6-f complex to PS I in most algae; in many cyanobacteria and Chlorophyta cytochrome c6 and the copper-containing plastocyanin are alternatives, with the availability of iron and copper regulating their relative expression, while higher plants only have plastocyanin. Iron, copper and zinc occur in enzymes that remove active oxygen species and that are in part bound to the thylakoid membrane. These enzymes are ascorbate peroxidase (Fe) and iron-(cyanobacteria, and most al gae) and copper-zinc- (some algae; higher plants) superoxide dismutase. Iron-containing NAD(P)H-PQ oxidoreductase in thylakoids of cyanobacteria and many eukaryotes may be involved in cyclic electron transport around PS I and in chlororespiration. Manganese is second to iron in its quantitative role in the thylakoids, with four Mn (and 1 Ca) per PS II involved in O2 evolution. The roles of the transition metals in redox catalysts can in broad terms be related to their redox chemistry and to their availability to organisms at the time when the pathways evolved. The quantitative roles of these trace metals varies genotypically (e.g. the greater need for iron in thylakoid reactions of cyanobacteria and rhodophytes than in other O2-evolvers as a result of their lower PS II:PS I ratio) and phenotypically (e.g. as a result of variations in PS II:PS I ratio with the spectral quality of incident radiation).

calcium copper iron manganese oxygen evolution phylogeny zinc 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Raven
    • 1
  • Michael C. W. Evans
    • 2
  • Rebecca E. Korb
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Marine Sciences Research CenterState University of New YorkStony BrookUSA
  4. 4.Wrigley Institute of Marine SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaUSA

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