Energy transfer dynamics in an RC-LH1-PufX tubular photosynthetic membrane

J. Hsin, J. Strümpfer, M. Şener, P. Qian, C. N. Hunter, K. Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Light absorption and the subsequent transfer of excitation energy are the first two steps in the photosynthetic process, carried out by protein-bound pigments, mainly bacteriochlorophylls (BChls), in photosynthetic bacteria. BChls are anchored in light-harvesting (LH) complexes, such as light-harvesting complex I (LH1), which directly associates with the reaction center (RC), forming the RC-LH1 core complex. In Rhodobacter sphaeroides, RC-LH1 core complexes contain an additional protein, PufX, and assemble into dimeric RC-LH1-PufX core complexes. In the absence of LH complex II (LH2), the former complexes can aggregate into a helically ordered tubular photosynthetic membrane. We have examined the excitation transfer dynamics in a single RC-LH1-PufX core complex dimer using the hierarchical equations of motion for dissipative quantum dynamics that accurately, yet in a computationally costly manner, treat the coupling between BChls and their protein environment. A widely employed description, the generalized Förster (GF) theory, was also used to calculate the transfer rates of the same excitonic system in order to verify the accuracy of this computationally cheap method. Additionally, in light of the structural uncertainties in the Rba. sphaeroides RC-LH1-PufX core complex, geometrical alterations were introduced into the BChl organization. It is shown that the energy transfer dynamics are not affected by the considered changes in the BChl organization and that the GF theory provides accurate transfer rates. An all-atom model for a tubular photosynthetic membrane is then constructed on the basis of electron microscopy data, and the overall energy transfer properties of this membrane are computed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085005
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Aug 11 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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