Cation radicals of xanthophylls

Mary Grace I. Galinato, Dariusz Niedzwiedzki, Cailin Deal, Robert R. Birge, Harry A. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Carotenes and xanthophylls are well known to act as electron donors in redox processes. This ability is thought to be associated with the inhibition of oxidative reactions in reaction centers and light-harvesting pigment-protein complexes of photosystem II (PSII). In this work, cation radicals of neoxanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, β-cryptoxanthin, β-carotene, and lycopene were generated in solution using ferric chloride as an oxidant and then studied by absorption spectroscopy. The investigation provides a view toward understanding the molecular features that determine the spectral properties of cation radicals of carotenoids. The absorption spectral data reveal a shift to longer wavelength with increasing π-chain length. However, zeaxanthin and β-cryptoxanthin exhibit cation radical spectra blue-shifted compared to that of β-carotene, despite all of these molecules having 11 conjugated carbon-carbon double bonds. CIS molecular orbital theory quantum computations interpret this effect as due to the hydroxyl groups in the terminal rings selectively stabilizing the highest occupied molecular orbitals of preferentially populated s-trans-isomers. The data are expected to be useful in the analysis of spectral results from PSII pigment-protein complexes seeking to understand the role of carotene and xanthophyll cation radicals in regulating excited state energy flow, in protecting PSII reaction centers against photoinhibition, and in dissipating excess light energy absorbed by photosynthetic organisms but not used for photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cation radicals of xanthophylls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this