Quieting a noisy antenna reproduces photosynthetic light-harvesting spectra

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Science  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1490-1495
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba6630

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Pairs of peaks stabilize output power

A counterintuitive feature of photosynthesis is that the primary pigments involved in absorbing light—for example, chlorophyll a and b in plants—do not all absorb right at the peak of the spectrum but instead are offset from the peak and each other. Arp et al. formulated a network model that explains how using pigments with this absorption-peak pattern can mitigate internal and external fluctuations in energy transfer, minimizing noise in output power (see the Perspective by Duffy). The model accurately reproduces absorption peaks for three diverse photosynthetic systems from different spectral environments. Such a mechanism may provide an underlying robustness to biological photosynthetic processes that can be further tuned and tweaked to adapt to longer-scale fluctuations in light intensity.

Science, this issue p. 1490; see also p. 1427

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