Scientists Demystify Journey of Electrons in Photosynthesis Process


Since time immemorial, plants have been making use of solar energy to sustain themselves. Photosynthetic bacteria and algae have been involved with the same process even for a longer time. They have been doing it with noticeable resiliency and efficiency.

Meanwhile, it has always been a mystery for the scientists as to how plants and such organisms have been doing this for millions of years. They are hoping to make optimum use of this knowledge to better man-made devices such as sensors and solar panels.

Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, are working closely with the collaborators at the Washington University, St. Louis. In recent times, they have solved a crucial part of this antediluvian mystery. Scientists got close to the initial, superfast chain of events that help photosynthetic proteins to capture light and use it to trigger electron transfer reactions.

Photosynthetic Organisms Absorb Light Photon to Start Photosynthesis

Dr Philip Laible is a specialist in biophysics at the Argonne National Laboratory. Dr Laible states that one needs to understand electron transfer to comprehend how biology triggers all the engrained activities.

Meanwhile, absorption of a light photon by protein pigments initiates the entire process in photosynthetic organisms. Each of the photons set in motion an electron that travels across a membrane placed specialized compartments of cells. Deborah K Hanson is a biochemist at the Argonne National Laboratory. Hence, she opines that it is vital to separate charge across a membrane and stabilize it as it produces energy fuelling cell growth.

Additionally, The Washington University and Argonne National Laboratory research team have gained an important understanding of the initial steps of this process: the journey of electrons. A recent article by the scientists was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article was titled “Switching sides — Reengineered primary charge separation in the bacterial photosynthetic reaction center”.

Author: Rohit Bhisey

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