Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 86, Issue 1–2, pp 71–80 | Cite as

Effects of Carotenoid Inhibition on the Photosynthetic RC–LH1 Complex in Purple Sulphur Bacterium Thiorhodospira sibirica

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Core complexes (LH1–RC) were isolated using preparative gel electrophoresis from photosynthetic membranes of the purple bacterium, Thiorhodospira sibirica, grown in the absence or presence of the carotenoid biosynthesis inhibitor, diphenylamine. The biosynthesis of carotenoids is affected by diphenylamine both quantitavely and qualitatively: after inhibition, the level of carotenoids in core complexes reaches only 10% of the normal content, as analyzed by HPLC and absorption spectroscopy. The normally grown bacterium biosynthesizes spirilloxanthin, rhodopin, anhydrorhodovibrin and lycopene, whereas after inhibition only neurosporene, ζ-carotene and their derivatives are found in the complexes. There is no concomitant accumulation of appreciable amounts of colorless carotenoid precursors. Interestingly, the main absorption band of the core light harvesting complex isolated from carotenoid-inhibited cells, shows a red shift to 889 nm, instead of a blue shift observed in many carotenoid-deficient species of purple photosynthetic bacteria.

The stability of isolated core complexes against n-octyl-β-D-glucopyranoside clearly depends on the presence of carotenoids. Subcomplexes resulting from the detergent treatment, were characterized by non-denaturating gel electrophoresis combined with in situ absorption spectroscopy. Core complexes with the native carotenoid complement dissociate into three subcomplexes: (a) LH1 complexes partially depleted of carotenoids, with an unusual spectrum in the NIR region (λmax = 791, 818, 847 and 875 nm), (b) reaction centers associated with fragments of LH1, (c) small amounts of a carotenoidless B820 subcomplex. The core complex from the carotenoid-deficient bacterium is much less stable and yields only the two sub-complexes (b) and (c). We conclude that carotenoids contribute critically to stability and interactions of the core complexes with detergents.


B820 subunits carotenoid inhibition core complex electrophoresis LH1 antenna 











complex isolated from the DPA-grown cell






high performance liquid chromatography


lithium dodecyl sulfate


light harvesting


fragment of LH1 complex


near infrared




polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis




reaction center






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© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Basic Biological ProblemsRussian Academy of SciencePushchinoRussia
  2. 2.Faculty of BiotechnologyJagiellonian UniversityCracowPoland
  3. 3.Dept. Biologie I – Bereich BotanikLMUMunichGermany

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