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Science. 2005 Jul 15;309(5733):484-7.

Chromatic adaptation of photosynthetic membranes.

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  • 1Institut Curie, Unité Mixte de Recherche-CNRS 168, 11 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France. simon.scheuring@curie.fr


Many biological membranes adapt in response to environmental conditions. We investigated how the composition and architecture of photosynthetic membranes of a bacterium change in response to light, using atomic force microscopy. Despite large modifications in the membrane composition, the local environment of core complexes remained unaltered, whereas specialized paracrystalline light-harvesting antenna domains grew under low-light conditions. Thus, the protein mixture in the membrane shows eutectic behavior and can be mimicked by a simple model. Such structural adaptation ensures efficient photon capture under low-light conditions and prevents photodamage under high-light conditions.

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