The antenna of far-red absorbing cyanobacteria increases both absorption and quantum efficiency of Photosystem II

Mascoli, Vincenzo; Bhatti, Ahmad Farhan; Bersanini, Luca; Amerongen, Herbert van; Croce, Roberta


Cyanobacteria carry out photosynthetic light-energy conversion using phycobiliproteins for light harvesting and the chlorophyll-rich photosystems for photochemistry. While most cyanobacteria only absorb visible photons, some of them can acclimate to harvest far-red light (FRL, 700–800 nm) by integrating chlorophyll f and d in their photosystems and producing red-shifted allophycocyanin. Chlorophyll f insertion enables the photosystems to use FRL but slows down charge separation, reducing photosynthetic efficiency. Here we demonstrate with time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy that on average charge separation in chlorophyll-f-containing Photosystem II becomes faster in the presence of red-shifted allophycocyanin antennas. This is different from all known photosynthetic systems, where additional light-harvesting complexes increase the overall absorption cross section but slow down charge separation. This remarkable property can be explained with the available structural and spectroscopic information. The unique design is probably important for these cyanobacteria to efficiently switch between visible and far-red light.