Pigment Complexes in Photosynthetic Prokaryotes; Structure and Function

  • J. Amesz
Part of the FEMS Symposium book series (FEMSS)


The photosynthetic apparatus of prokaryotes, in contrast to that of higher plants, shows an almost bewildering variety of pigmentation and organization. Nevertheless, as in all photosynthetic organisms, two major functions of the pigments can be discerned. The first one, the so-called antenna function, consists of the absorption of light and the transfer of the energy of the excited pigment molecules to the reaction center. The second, equally important function concerns electron transfer in the reaction center; the primary photochemical reaction consists of the transfer of an electron from an excited chlorophyll or bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) molecule to a neighboring acceptor molecule. Subsequent electron transfer reactions serve to stabilize the energy of the radical pair thus formed and make it available for secondary electron transfer and biosynthetic reactions. More than 90% of the pigments present in photosynthetic organisms have an antenna function only. Originally it was thought that these would be dispersed in the lipid bilayer of the photosynthetic membrane, but nowadays it is firmly established that they are either bound to intrinsic proteins or, as in cyanobacteria and green bacteria, contained in extramembraneous structures, the phycobilisomes and chlorosomes.


Reaction Center Purple Bacterium Green Sulfur Bacterium Antenna Complex Antenna Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Amesz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiophysicsUniversity of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

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