The fluorescence of purified biliproteins (phycocyanin 645, phycocyanin 612, and phycoerythrin 545) from three cryptomonads, Chroomonas species, Hemiselmis virescens, and Rhodomonas lens, and C-phycocyanin from Anacystis nidulans has been time resolved in the picosecond region with a streak camera system having less than or equal to 2-ps jitter. The fluorescence lifetimes of phycocyanins from Chroomonas species and Hemiselmis virescens are 1.5 +/- 0.2 ns and 2.3 +/- 0.2 ns, respectively, regardless of the fluence of the 30 ps, 532-nm excitation pulse. (Fluence [or photons/cm2] = f intensity [photons/cm2s]dt.). In contrast, that of C-phycocyanin is 2.3 +/- 0.2 ns when the excitation fluence is 8.2 X 10(11) photons/cm2 and decreases to a decay approximated by an exponential decay time of 0.65 +/- 0.1 ns at 7.2 X 10(16) photons/cm2. The cryptomonad phycoerythrin fluorescence decay lifetime is also dependent on intensity, having a decay time of 1.5 +/- 0.1 ns at low fluences and becoming clearly biphasic at higher fluences (greater than 10(15) photons/cm2). We interpret the shortening of decay times for C-phycocyanin and phycoerythrin 545 in terms of exciton annihilation, and have discussed the applicability of exciton annihilation theories to the high fluence effects.
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