Photosystem I-light harvesting complex I (PSI-LHCI) was isolated from the thermoacidophilic red alga Galdieria sulphuraria, and its structure, composition, and light-harvesting function were characterized by electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and ultrafast optical spectroscopy. The results show that Galdieria PSI is a monomer with core features similar to those of PSI from green algae, but with significant differences in shape and size. A comparison with the crystal structure of higher plant (pea) PSI-LHCI indicates that Galdieria PSI binds seven to nine light-harvesting proteins. Results from ultrafast optical spectroscopy show that the functional coupling of the LHCI proteins to the PSI core is tighter than in other eukaryotic PSI-LHCI systems reported thus far. This tight coupling helps Galdieria perform efficient light harvesting under the low-light conditions present in its natural endolithic habitat.
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