Augmenting light coverage for photosynthesis through YFP-enhanced charge separation at the Rhodobacter sphaeroides reaction centre

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Grayson, Katie J. ; Faries, Kaitlyn M. ; Huang, Xia ; Qian, Pu ; Dilbeck, Preston ; Martin, Elizabeth C. ; Hitchcock, Andrew ; Vasilev, Cvetelin ; Yuen, Jonathan M. ; Niedzwiedzki, Dariusz M. ; Leggett, Graham J. ; Holten, Dewey ; Kirmaier, Christine ; Neil Hunter, C. (2017)
  • Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
  • Journal: Nature Communications, volume 8 (eissn: 2041-1723)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1038/ncomms13972, pmc: PMC5512671
  • Subject: Article
    mesheuropmc: nervous system | fungi | macromolecular substances

Photosynthesis uses a limited range of the solar spectrum, so enhancing spectral coverage could improve the efficiency of light capture. Here, we show that a hybrid reaction centre (RC)/yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) complex accelerates photosynthetic growth in the bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. The structure of the RC/YFP-light-harvesting 1 (LH1) complex shows the position of YFP attachment to the RC-H subunit, on the cytoplasmic side of the RC complex. Fluorescence lifetime microscopy of whole cells and ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy of purified RC/YFP complexes show that the YFP-RC intermolecular distance and spectral overlap between the emission of YFP and the visible-region (QX) absorption bands of the RC allow energy transfer via a Förster mechanism, with an efficiency of 40±10%. This proof-of-principle study demonstrates the feasibility of increasing spectral coverage for harvesting light using non-native genetically-encoded light-absorbers, thereby augmenting energy transfer and trapping in photosynthesis.
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    This work was supported as part of the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC 0001035.

    PARC supported photophysical studies of RC/YFP, YFP and RC complexes (P.D., J.M.Y., D.M.N., C.K., K.J.G.), and fluorescence lifetime studies of whole cells (X.H., C.V.) with support for X.H., P.D., C.V., Y.M.M., D.M.M., and partial support for C.N.H. C.N.H. also acknowledges financial support from Advanced Award 338895 from the European Research Council. C.N.H. and A.H. acknowledge financial support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC UK), award number BB/G021546/1. K.J.G. was supported by a doctoral studentship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC UK), and gratefully acknowledges a Scientific Exchange award from PARC; G.J.L. thanks the EPSRC (Grant EP/I012060/1) for financial support. K.M.F. was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under grant DGE-1143954. The authors are grateful to Dr Amanda Brindley and Dr David Mothersole for useful discussions.

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