Research Article

Structural basis for blue-green light harvesting and energy dissipation in diatoms

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Science  08 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6427, eaav0365
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav0365

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All the hues, even the blues

Photosynthetic organisms must balance maximizing productive light absorption and protecting themselves from too much light, which causes damage. Both tasks require pigments—chlorophylls and carotenoids—which absorb light energy and either transfer it to photosystems or disperse it as heat. Wang et al. determined the structure of a fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c–binding protein (FCP) from a diatom. The structure reveals the arrangement of the specialized photosynthetic pigments in this light-harvesting protein. Fucoxanthin and chlorophyll c absorb the blue-green light that penetrates to deeper water and is not absorbed well by chlorophylls a or b. FCPs are related to the light-harvesting complexes of plants but have more binding sites for carotenoids and fewer for chlorophylls, which may help transfer and disperse light energy.

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