The Photosynthetic World

  • Martin F. Hohmann-Marriott
  • Robert E. Blankenship
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 34)


Photosynthesis, the conversion of sunlight into energy that is available to sustain cellular metabolism, is accomplished by a diverse group of organisms. The present photosynthetic diversity has been shaped over billions of years through the interactions of the genetic makeup and metabolic capabilities of each organism with its environment. Some photosynthetic bacteria found today can live in anaerobic conditions as must have been the case with the first photosynthetic organisms found on the primordial Earth. The oxygen of our present atmosphere was generated by ancient cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria were incorporated into non-photosynthetic organisms in a process called endosymbiosis, giving rise to all the photosynthetic eukaryotes. Competition for light led to the development of a multitude of pigments that together span the entire solar spectrum. These pigments are arranged in special light-harvesting antenna systems that have evolved to efficiently channel excited-state energy to the reaction centers. In reaction centers, electrons are stripped away from donor molecules. This charge separation event, and successive electron transfer reactions, are catalyzed by multisubunit membrane-embedded protein complexes that are connected together via mobile electron carriers. The electron transfer reactions are ultimately used to convert inorganic carbon into organic carbon compounds. Most ecosystems rely on consuming photosynthesis-derived organic molecules and photosynthesis-derived oxygen to sustain life.


Reaction Center Antenna System Crassulacean Acid Metabolism Purple Bacterium Oxygenic Photosynthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



– Bacteriochlorophyll;


– The pathway where CO2 is fixed to ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate to produce a three-carbon sugar;


– The pathway where CO2 is fixed to phosphoenolpyruvate to produce oxaloacetate;


– Crassulacean acid metabolism;


– Chlorophyll;


– Filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs;


– Iron-sulfur;


– Fenna-Matthews-Olson;


– Light-harvesting complex I of oxygenic phototrophs;


– Light-harvesting complex II of oxygenic phototrophs;


– Light-harvesting complex I of purple bacteria and filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs;


– Light-harvesting complex II of purple bacteria and filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs;


– Phycobilisome proteins of cyanobacteria and red algae;


Prochlorococcus chlorophyll-binding protein;


– Photosytem I;


– Photosystem II;


– Quinone



REB is grateful for continuing research support from National Science Foundation (USA), Department of Energy (USA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA). MFH-M acknowledges support through the National Research Council Postdoctoral Associateship Program (USA), the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship program (NZ) and the Marsden Fund (NZ).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin F. Hohmann-Marriott
    • 1
  • Robert E. Blankenship
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Departments of Biology and ChemistryWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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