Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 71, Issue 1–2, pp 83–90 | Cite as

Determination of the topography and biometry of chlorosomes by atomic force microscopy

  • Asunción Martinez-Planells
  • Juan B. Arellano
  • Carles M. Borrego
  • Carmen López-Iglesias
  • Frederic Gich
  • Jesús Garcia-Gil


Isolated chlorosomes of several species of filamentous anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria (FAPB) and green sulfur bacteria (GSB) were examined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) to characterize their topography and biometry. Chlorosomes of Chloroflexusaurantiacus, Chloronema sp., and Chlorobium (Chl.) tepidum exhibited a smooth surface, whereas those of Chl. phaeobacteroides and Chl. vibrioforme showed a rough one. The potential artifactual nature of the two types of surfaces, which may have arisen because of sample manipulation or AFM processing, was ruled out when AFM images and transmission electron micrographs were compared. The difference in surface texture might be associated with the specific lipid and polypeptide composition of the chlorosomal envelope. The study of three-dimensional AFM images also provides information about the size and shape of individual chlorosomes. Chlorosomal volumes ranged from ca. 35 000 nm3 to 247 000 nm3 for Chl. vibrioforme and Chl. phaeobacteroides, respectively. The mean height was about 25 nm for all the species studied, except Chl. vibrioforme, which showed a height of only 14 nm, suggesting that GSB have 1–2 layers of bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) rods and GFB have ∼4. Moreover, the average number of BChl molecules per chlorosome was estimated according to models of BChl rod organisation. These calculations yielded upper limits ranging from 34 000 BChl molecules in Chl. vibrioforme to 240 000 in Chl. phaeobacteroides, values that greatly surpass those conventionally accepted.

atomic force microscopy biometry chlorosomes freeze-drying green sulfur bacteria topography transmission electron microscopy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asunción Martinez-Planells
    • 1
  • Juan B. Arellano
    • 2
  • Carles M. Borrego
    • 1
  • Carmen López-Iglesias
    • 3
  • Frederic Gich
    • 1
  • Jesús Garcia-Gil
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Microbiology. Institute of Aquatic EcologyUniversity of Girona, Campus de MontiliviGironaSpain
  2. 2.Plant Physiology DepartmentInstitute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology, (CSIC)SalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Scientific and Technical ServicesUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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