Living off the Sun: chlorophylls, bacteriochlorophylls and rhodopsins

A. W.D. Larkum (Lead / Corresponding author), R. J. Ritchie, J. A. Raven

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Pigments absorbing 350–1,050 nm radiation have had an important role on the Earth for at least 3.5 billion years. The ion pumping rhodopsins absorb blue and green photons using retinal and pump ions across cell membranes. Bacteriochlorophylls (BChl), absorbing in the violet/blue and near infra red (NIR), power anoxygenic photosynthesis, with one photoreaction centre; and chlorophylls (Chl), absorbing in the violet/blue and red (occasionally NIR) power oxygenic photosynthesis, with two photoreaction centres. The accessory (bacterio)chlorophylls add to the spectral range (bandwidth) of photon absorption, e.g., in algae living at depth in clear oceanic water and in algae and photosynthetic (PS) bacteria in microbial mats. Organism size, via the package effect, determines the photon absorption benefit of the costs of synthesis of the pigment–protein complexes. There are unresolved issues as to the evolution of Chls vs. BChls and the role of violet/blue and NIR radiation in PS bacteria.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-43
    Number of pages33
    Issue number1
    Early online date8 Feb 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Plant Science


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