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Natural photosynthesis can be divided between the chlorophyll-containing plants, algae and cyanobacteria that make up the oxygenic phototrophs and a diversity of bacteriochlorophyll-containing bacteria that make up the anoxygenic phototrophs. Photosynthetic light harvesting and reaction centre proteins from both kingdoms have been exploited for solar energy conversion, solar fuel synthesis and sensing technologies, but the energy harvesting abilities of these devices are limited by each protein's individual palette of pigments. In this work we demonstrate a range of genetically-encoded, self-assembling photosystems in which recombinant plant light harvesting complexes are covalently locked with reaction centres from a purple photosynthetic bacterium, producing macromolecular chimeras that display mechanisms of polychromatic solar energy harvesting and conversion. Our findings illustrate the power of a synthetic biology approach in which bottom-up construction of photosystems using naturally diverse but mechanistically complementary components can be achieved in a predictable fashion through the encoding of adaptable, plug-and-play covalent interfaces.


Juntai Liu, Vincent M Friebe, Raoul N Frese, Michael R Jones. Polychromatic solar energy conversion in pigment-protein chimeras that unite the two kingdoms of (bacterio)chlorophyll-based photosynthesis. Nature communications. 2020 Mar 24;11(1):1542

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PMID: 32210238

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