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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2002;53:503-21.

Complex evolution of photosynthesis.

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1
Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA. xiong@mail.bio.tamu.edu

Abstract

The origin of photosynthesis is a fundamental biological question that has eluded researchers for decades. The complexity of the origin and evolution of photosynthesis is a result of multiple photosynthetic components having independent evolutionary pathways. Indeed, evolutionary scenarios have been established for only a few photosynthetic components. Phylogenetic analysis of Mg-tetrapyrrole biosynthesis genes indicates that most anoxygenic photosynthetic organisms are ancestral to oxygen-evolving cyanobacteria and that the purple bacterial lineage may contain the most ancestral form of this pigment biosynthesis pathway. The evolutionary path of type I and type II reaction center apoproteins is still unresolved owing to the fact that a unified evolutionary tree cannot be generated for these divergent reaction center subunits. However, evidence for a cytochrome b origin for the type II reaction center apoproteins is emerging. Based on the combined information for both photopigments and reaction centers, a unified theory for the evolution of reaction center holoproteins is provided. Further insight into the evolution of photosynthesis will have to rely on additional broader sampling of photosynthesis genes from divergent photosynthetic bacteria.

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