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Concept: Oxygen evolution


The effects of exposure to increasing manganese concentrations (50-1500 µM) from the start of the experiment on the functional performance of photosystem II (PSII) and photosystem I (PSI) and photosynthetic apparatus composition of Arabidopsis thaliana were compared. In agreement with earlier studies, excess Mn caused minimal changes in the PSII photochemical efficiency measured as F(v)/F(m), although the characteristic peak temperature of the S(2/3)Q(B)(-) charge recombinations was shifted to lower temperatures at the highest Mn concentration. SDS-PAGE and immunoblot analyses also did not exhibit any significant change in the relative abundance of PSII-associated polypeptides: PSII reaction centre protein D1, Lhcb1 (major light-harvesting protein of LHCII complex), and PsbO (OEC33, a 33kDa protein of the oxygen-evolving complex). In addition, the abundance of Rubisco also did not change with Mn treatments. However, plants grown under excess Mn exhibited increased susceptibility to PSII photoinhibition. In contrast, in vivo measurements of the redox transients of PSI reaction centre (P700) showed a considerable gradual decrease in the extent of P700 photooxidation (P700(+)) under increased Mn concentrations compared to control. This was accompanied by a slower rate of P700(+) re-reduction indicating a downregulation of the PSI-dependent cyclic electron flow. The abundance of PSI reaction centre polypeptides (PsaA and PsaB) in plants under the highest Mn concentration was also significantly lower compared to the control. The results demonstrate for the first time that PSI is the major target of Mn toxicity within the photosynthetic apparatus of Arabidopsis plants. The possible involvement mechanisms of Mn toxicity targeting specifically PSI are discussed.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Arabidopsis, Photosystem, Light reactions, Photosystem I, Photosystem II, Oxygen evolution, Light-dependent reactions


While photosystem II (PSII) of plants utilizes light for photosynthesis, part of the absorbed energy may be reverted back and dissipated as long-term fluorescence (delayed fluorescence or DF). Because the generation of DF is coupled with the processes of forward photosynthetic activities, DF contains the information about plant physiological states and plant-environment interactions. This makes DF a potentially powerful biosensing mechanism to measure plant photosynthetic activities and environmental conditions. While DF has attracted the interest of many researchers, some aspects of it are still unknown because of the complexity of photosynthetic system. In order to provide a holistic picture about the usefulness of DF, it is meaningful to summarize the research on DF applications. In this short review, available literature on applications of DF from PSII is summarized.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Plant, Photosystem, Chlorophyll, Photosystem II, Oxygen evolution, Light-dependent reactions


Rechargeable metal-air batteries and water splitting are highly competitive options for a sustainable energy future, but their commercialization is hindered by the absence of cost-effective, highly efficient and stable catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction. Here we report the rational design and synthesis of a double perovskite PrBa0.5Sr0.5Co1.5Fe0.5O5+δ nanofiber as a highly efficient and robust catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction. Co-doping of strontium and iron into PrBaCo2O5+δ is found to be very effective in enhancing intrinsic activity (normalized by the geometrical surface area, ∼4.7 times), as validated by electrochemical measurements and first-principles calculations. Further, the nanofiber morphology enhances its mass activity remarkably (by ∼20 times) as the diameter is reduced to ∼20 nm, attributed to the increased surface area and an unexpected intrinsic activity enhancement due possibly to a favourable eg electron filling associated with partial surface reduction, as unravelled from chemical titration and electron energy-loss spectroscopy.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Iron, Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Redox, Electrochemistry, Nitrogen, Oxygen evolution


Photosynthesis powers life on our planet. The basic photosynthetic architecture consists of antenna complexes that harvest solar energy and reaction centres that convert the energy into stable separated charge. In oxygenic photosynthesis, the initial charge separation occurs in the photosystem II reaction centre, the only known natural enzyme that uses solar energy to split water. Both energy transfer and charge separation in photosynthesis are rapid events with high quantum efficiencies. In recent nonlinear spectroscopic experiments, long-lived coherences have been observed in photosynthetic antenna complexes, and theoretical work suggests that they reflect underlying electronic-vibrational resonances, which may play a functional role in enhancing energy transfer. Here, we report the observation of coherent dynamics persisting on a picosecond timescale at 77 K in the photosystem II reaction centre using two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy. Supporting simulations suggest that the coherences are of a mixed electronic-vibrational (vibronic) nature and may enhance the rate of charge separation in oxygenic photosynthesis.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Scientific method, Oxygen, Physics, Sun, Photosystem, Nature, Oxygen evolution


Calcium manganese oxide nanoparticles for application in water oxidation are synthesized by combination with a carboxylated biopolymer stabilizing agent to form very simple but effective analogues of the photosynthetic PSII oxygen evolving complex. The relative efficiency of these materials for production of O(2) and protons under visible light-promoted reactions is evaluated and prolonged reaction lifetimes are observed.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Aluminium, Oxide, Photosystem, Oxygen evolution, Manganese


α-Fe(2)O(3) (hematite) photoanodes for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) were prepared by a cost-efficient sol-gel procedure. Due to low active photoelectrochemical properties observed, it is assumed that the sol-gel procedure leads to hematite films with defects and surface states on which generated charge carriers are recombined or immobilized in trap processes. Electrochemical activation was proven to diminish unfavourable surface groups to some extent. More efficiently, a plasma treatment improves significantly the photoelectrochemical properties of the OER. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis reveals an oxygen enriched surface layer with new oxygen species which may be responsible for the improved electrochemical activity. Due to surface photovoltage an increased fraction of transferred charge carriers from these newly produced surface defects are identified.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Spectroscopy, Oxygen, X-ray, Iron, Oxide, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Oxygen evolution


To date, the proposed mechanisms of nitrogenase-driven photosynthetic H2 production by the diazotrophic unicellular cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142 have assumed that reductant and ATP requirements are derived solely from glycogen oxidation and cyclic-electron flow around photosystem I. Through genome-scale transcript and protein profiling, this study presents and tests a new hypothesis on the metabolic relationship between oxygenic photosynthesis and nitrogenase-mediated H2 production in Cyanothece 51142. Our results show that net-positive rates of oxygenic photosynthesis and increased expression of photosystem II reaction centers correspond and are synchronized with nitrogenase expression and H2 production. These findings provide a new and more complete view on the metabolic processes contributing to the energy budget of photosynthetic H2 production and highlight the role of concurrent photocatalytic H2O oxidation as a participating process.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Bacteria, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Redox, Photosystem, Oxygen evolution


Cyanobacteria are unique among bacteria in performing oxygenic photosynthesis, often together with nitrogen fixation and, thus, are major primary producers in many ecosystems. The cyanobacterium, Leptolyngbya sp. strain JSC-1, exhibits an extensive photoacclimative response to growth in far-red light that includes the synthesis of chlorophylls d and f. During far-red acclimation, transcript levels increase more than twofold for ~900 genes and decrease by more than half for ~2000 genes. Core subunits of photosystem I, photosystem II, and phycobilisomes are replaced by proteins encoded in a 21-gene cluster that includes a knotless red/far-red phytochrome and two response regulators. This acclimative response enhances light harvesting for wavelengths complementary to the growth light (λ = 700 to 750 nanometers) and enhances oxygen evolution in far-red light.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Archaea, Bacteria, Evolution, Photosystem, Oxygen evolution


Since the emergence of oxygenic photosynthesis, living systems have developed protective mechanisms against reactive oxygen species. During charge separation in photosynthetic reaction centres, triplet states can react with molecular oxygen generating destructive singlet oxygen. The triplet product yield in bacteria is observed to be reduced by weak magnetic fields. Reaction centres from plants' photosystem II share many features with bacterial reaction centres, including a high-spin iron whose function has remained obscure. To explain observations that the magnetic field effect is reduced by the iron, we propose that its fast-relaxing spin plays a protective role in photosynthesis by generating an effective magnetic field. We consider a simple model of the system, derive an analytical expression for the effective magnetic field and analyse the resulting triplet yield reduction. The protective mechanism is robust for realistic parameter ranges, constituting a clear example of a quantum effect playing a macroscopic role vital for life.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Bacteria, Mitochondrion, Redox, Oxygen evolution


Photosynthesis converts light energy into biologically useful chemical energy vital to life on Earth. The initial reaction of photosynthesis takes place in photosystem II (PSII), a 700-kilodalton homodimeric membrane protein complex that catalyses photo-oxidation of water into dioxygen through an S-state cycle of the oxygen evolving complex (OEC). The structure of PSII has been solved by X-ray diffraction (XRD) at 1.9 ångström resolution, which revealed that the OEC is a Mn4CaO5-cluster coordinated by a well defined protein environment. However, extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) studies showed that the manganese cations in the OEC are easily reduced by X-ray irradiation, and slight differences were found in the Mn-Mn distances determined by XRD, EXAFS and theoretical studies. Here we report a ‘radiation-damage-free’ structure of PSII from Thermosynechococcus vulcanus in the S1 state at a resolution of 1.95 ångströms using femtosecond X-ray pulses of the SPring-8 ångström compact free-electron laser (SACLA) and hundreds of large, highly isomorphous PSII crystals. Compared with the structure from XRD, the OEC in the X-ray free electron laser structure has Mn-Mn distances that are shorter by 0.1-0.2 ångströms. The valences of each manganese atom were tentatively assigned as Mn1D(iii), Mn2C(iv), Mn3B(iv) and Mn4A(iii), based on the average Mn-ligand distances and analysis of the Jahn-Teller axis on Mn(iii). One of the oxo-bridged oxygens, O5, has significantly longer distances to Mn than do the other oxo-oxygen atoms, suggesting that O5 is a hydroxide ion instead of a normal oxygen dianion and therefore may serve as one of the substrate oxygen atoms. These findings provide a structural basis for the mechanism of oxygen evolution, and we expect that this structure will provide a blueprint for the design of artificial catalysts for water oxidation.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Electron, Oxygen, Chemistry, Oxide, Oxygen evolution, Manganese, Free electron laser