Shedding Light on Primary Donors in Photosynthetic Reaction Centers

Michael Gorka, Amgalanbaatar Baldansuren, Amanda Malnati, Elijah Gruszecki, John H. Golbeck, K. V. Lakshmi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Chlorophylls (Chl)s exist in a variety of flavors and are ubiquitous in both the energy and electron transfer processes of photosynthesis. The functions they perform often occur on the ultrafast (fs–ns) time scale and until recently, these have been difficult to measure in real time. Further, the complexity of the binding pockets and the resulting protein-matrix effects that alter the respective electronic properties have rendered theoretical modeling of these states difficult. Recent advances in experimental methodology, computational modeling, and emergence of new reaction center (RC) structures have renewed interest in these processes and allowed researchers to elucidate previously ambiguous functions of Chls and related pheophytins. This is complemented by a wealth of experimental data obtained from decades of prior research. Studying the electronic properties of Chl molecules has advanced our understanding of both the nature of the primary charge separation and subsequent electron transfer processes of RCs. In this review, we examine the structures of primary electron donors in Type I and Type II RCs in relation to the vast body of spectroscopic research that has been performed on them to date. Further, we present density functional theory calculations on each oxidized primary donor to study both their electronic properties and our ability to model experimental spectroscopic data. This allows us to directly compare the electronic properties of hetero- and homodimeric RCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number735666
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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