Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 292
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Armao, Joseph J. Rabu, Pierre Moulin, Emilie and Giuseppone, Nicolas 2016. Long-Range Energy Transport via Plasmonic Propagation in a Supramolecular Organic Waveguide. Nano Letters, Vol. 16, Issue. 4, p. 2800.

    Baghbanzadeh, Sima and Kassal, Ivan 2016. Distinguishing the roles of energy funnelling and delocalization in photosynthetic light harvesting. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., Vol. 18, Issue. 10, p. 7459.

    Bol’shakov, M. A. Ashikhmin, A. A. Makhneva, Z. K. and Moskalenko, A. A. 2016. Effect of illumination intensity and inhibition of carotenoid biosynthesis on assembly of peripheral light-harvesting complexes in purple sulfur bacteria Allochromatium vinosum ATCC 17899. Microbiology, Vol. 85, Issue. 4, p. 420.

    Casella, Selene Huang, Fang and Liu, Lu-Ning 2016. Handbook of Photosynthesis, Third Edition.

    Chen, Peng-Zhong Weng, Yu-Xiang Niu, Li-Ya Chen, Yu-Zhe Wu, Li-Zhu Tung, Chen-Ho and Yang, Qing-Zheng 2016. Light-Harvesting Systems Based on Organic Nanocrystals To Mimic Chlorosomes. Angewandte Chemie, Vol. 128, Issue. 8, p. 2809.

    Chen, Peng-Zhong Weng, Yu-Xiang Niu, Li-Ya Chen, Yu-Zhe Wu, Li-Zhu Tung, Chen-Ho and Yang, Qing-Zheng 2016. Light-Harvesting Systems Based on Organic Nanocrystals To Mimic Chlorosomes. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol. 55, Issue. 8, p. 2759.

    Chenchiliyan, Manoop Timpmann, Kõu Jalviste, Erko Adams, Peter G. Hunter, C. Neil and Freiberg, Arvi 2016. Dimerization of core complexes as an efficient strategy for energy trapping in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Vol. 1857, Issue. 6, p. 634.

    Chenu, Aurélia and Brumer, Paul 2016. Transform-limited-pulse representation of excitation with natural incoherent light. The Journal of Chemical Physics, Vol. 144, Issue. 4, p. 044103.

    Chorošajev, Vladimir Rancova, Olga and Abramavicius, Darius 2016. Polaronic effects at finite temperatures in the B850 ring of the LH2 complex. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., Vol. 18, Issue. 11, p. 7966.

    Cupellini, Lorenzo Jurinovich, Sandro Prandi, Ingrid G. Caprasecca, Stefano and Mennucci, Benedetta 2016. Photoprotection and triplet energy transfer in higher plants: the role of electronic and nuclear fluctuations. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., Vol. 18, Issue. 16, p. 11288.

    Curutchet, Carles and Mennucci, Benedetta 2016. Quantum Chemical Studies of Light Harvesting. Chemical Reviews,

    Eltsova, Zinaida Bolshakov, Maxim and Tsygankov, Anatoly 2016. Effect of light intensity and various organic acids on the growth of Rhodobacter sphaeroides LHII-deficient mutant in a turbidostat culture. Photosynthesis Research,

    Gong, Juliane Q. Favereau, Ludovic Anderson, Harry L. and Herz, Laura M. 2016. Breaking the Symmetry in Molecular Nanorings. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Vol. 7, Issue. 2, p. 332.

    Henry, Sarah L. Withers, Jamie M. Singh, Ishwar Cooper, Jonathan M. Clark, Alasdair W. Burley, Glenn A. and Cogdell, Richard J. 2016. DNA-directed spatial assembly of photosynthetic light-harvesting proteins. Org. Biomol. Chem., Vol. 14, Issue. 4, p. 1359.

    Kosumi, Daisuke Horibe, Tomoko Sugisaki, Mitsuru Cogdell, Richard J. and Hashimoto, Hideki 2016. Photoprotection Mechanism of Light-Harvesting Antenna Complex from Purple Bacteria. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Vol. 120, Issue. 5, p. 951.

    Lam, Christopher N. Chang, Dongsook Wang, Muzhou Chen, Wei-Ren and Olsen, Bradley D. 2016. The shape of protein-polymer conjugates in dilute solution. Journal of Polymer Science Part A: Polymer Chemistry, Vol. 54, Issue. 2, p. 292.

    Ma, Fei Yu, Long-Jiang Wang-Otomo, Zheng-Yu and van Grondelle, Rienk 2016. Temperature dependent LH1→RC energy transfer in purple bacteria Tch. tepidum with shiftable LH1-Qy band: A natural system to investigate thermally activated energy transfer in photosynthesis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Vol. 1857, Issue. 4, p. 408.

    Magdaong, Nikki M. LaFountain, Amy M. Hacking, Kirsty Niedzwiedzki, Dariusz M. Gibson, George N. Cogdell, Richard J. and Frank, Harry A. 2016. Spectral heterogeneity and carotenoid-to-bacteriochlorophyll energy transfer in LH2 light-harvesting complexes from Allochromatium vinosum. Photosynthesis Research, Vol. 127, Issue. 2, p. 171.

    Magdaong, Nikki Cecil M. Niedzwiedzki, Dariusz M. Goodson, Carrie and Blankenship, Robert E. 2016. Carotenoid-to-Bacteriochlorophyll Energy Transfer in the LH1–RC Core Complex of a BacteriochlorophyllbContaining Purple Photosynthetic BacteriumBlastochloris viridis. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Vol. 120, Issue. 23, p. 5159.

    Mirkovic, Tihana Ostroumov, Evgeny E. Anna, Jessica M. van Grondelle, Rienk Govindjee, and Scholes, Gregory D. 2016. Light Absorption and Energy Transfer in the Antenna Complexes of Photosynthetic Organisms. Chemical Reviews,


The architecture and function of the light-harvesting apparatus of purple bacteria: from single molecules to in vivo membranes

  • Richard J. Cogdell (a1), Andrew Gall (a2) and Jürgen Köhler (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 12 October 2006

1. Introduction 229

2. Structures 234

2.1 The structure of LH2 234

2.2 Natural variants of peripheral antenna complexes 242

2.3 RC–LH1 complexes 242

3. Spectroscopy 249

3.1 Steady-state spectroscopy 249

3.2 Factors which affect the position of the Qy absorption band of Bchla 249

4. Regulation of biosynthesis and assembly 257

4.1 Regulation 257

4.1.1 Oxygen 257

4.1.2 Light 258 AppA: blue-light-mediated regulation 259 Bacteriophytochromes 259

4.1.3 From the RC to the mature PSU 261

4.2 Assembly 261

4.2.1 LH1 262

4.2.2 LH2 263

5. Frenkel excitons 265

5.1 General 265

5.2 B800 267

5.3 B850 267

5.4 B850 delocalization 273

6. Energy-transfer pathways: experimental results 274

6.1 Theoretical background 274

6.2 ‘Follow the excitation energy’ 276

6.2.1 Bchla→Bchla energy transfer 277 B800→B800 277 B800→B850 278 B850→B850 279 B850→B875 280 B875→RC 280

6.2.2 Car[harr ]Bchla energy transfer 281

7. Single-molecule spectroscopy 284

7.1 Introduction to single-molecule spectroscopy 284

7.2 Single-molecule spectroscopy on LH2 285

7.2.1 Overview 285

7.2.2 B800 286 General 286 Intra- and intercomplex disorder of site energies 287 Electron-phonon coupling 289 B800→B800 energy transfer revisited 290

7.2.3 B850 293

8. Quantum mechanics and the purple bacteria LH system 298

9. Appendix 299

9.1 A crash course on quantum mechanics 299

9.2 Interacting dimers 305

10. Acknowledgements 306

11. References 307

This review describes the structures of the two major integral membrane pigment complexes, the RC–LH1 ‘core’ and LH2 complexes, which together make up the light-harvesting system present in typical purple photosynthetic bacteria. The antenna complexes serve to absorb incident solar radiation and to transfer it to the reaction centres, where it is used to ‘power’ the photosynthetic redox reaction and ultimately leads to the synthesis of ATP. Our current understanding of the biosynthesis and assembly of the LH and RC complexes is described, with special emphasis on the roles of the newly described bacteriophytochromes. Using both the structural information and that obtained from a wide variety of biophysical techniques, the details of each of the different energy-transfer reactions that occur, between the absorption of a photon and the charge separation in the RC, are described. Special emphasis is given to show how the use of single-molecule spectroscopy has provided a more detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the energy-transfer processes. We have tried, with the help of an Appendix, to make the details of the quantum mechanics that are required to appreciate these molecular mechanisms, accessible to mathematically illiterate biologists. The elegance of the purple bacterial light-harvesting system lies in the way in which it has cleverly exploited quantum mechanics.

Corresponding author
Biomedical Research Building, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, 126 University Place, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK. Tel.: +44 (0)141-330-4232; Fax: +44 (0)141-330-4620; Email:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics
  • ISSN: 0033-5835
  • EISSN: 1469-8994
  • URL: /core/journals/quarterly-reviews-of-biophysics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *