The evolutionary pathway from anoxygenic to oxygenic photosynthesis examined by comparison of the properties of photosystem II and bacterial reaction centers

J. P. Allen, J. C. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

23 Citations (Scopus)


In photosynthetic organisms, such as purple bacteria, cyanobacteria, and plants, light is captured and converted into energy to create energy-rich compounds. The primary process of energy conversion involves the transfer of electrons from an excited donor molecule to a series of electron acceptors in pigment-protein complexes. Two of these complexes, the bacterial reaction center and photosystem II, are evolutionarily related and structurally similar. However, only photosystem II is capable of performing the unique reaction of water oxidation. An understanding of the evolutionary process that lead to the development of oxygenic photosynthesis can be found by comparison of these two complexes. In this review, we summarize how insight is being gained by examination of the differences in critical functional properties of these complexes and by experimental efforts to alter pigment-protein interactions of the bacterial reaction center in order to enable it to perform reactions, such as amino acid and metal oxidation, observable in photosystem II. P680 Primary electron donor of photosystem II Y Z Redox active tyrosine residue of photosystem II, secondary electron donor to P680 +

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Evolution
  • Manganese
  • Oxygen-evolving complex
  • Photosynthesis
  • Purple bacteria
  • Reaction center
  • Rhodobacter sphaeroides
  • Tyrosine oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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