Photosynthesis Research

, 98:643 | Cite as

Comparison of bacterial reaction centers and photosystem II

  • László Kálmán
  • JoAnn C. Williams
  • James P. Allen


In photosynthetic organisms, the utilization of solar energy to drive electron and proton transfer reactions across membranes is performed by pigment–protein complexes including bacterial reaction centers (BRCs) and photosystem II. The well-characterized BRC has served as a structural and functional model for the evolutionarily-related photosystem II for many years. Even though these complexes transfer electrons and protons across cell membranes in analogous manners, they utilize different secondary electron donors. Photosystem II has the unique ability to abstract electrons from water, while BRCs use molecules with much lower potentials as electron donors. This article compares the two complexes and reviews the factors that give rise to the functional differences. Also discussed are the modifications that have been performed on BRCs so that they perform reactions, such as amino acid and metal oxidation, which occur in photosystem II.


Photosynthesis Reaction center Tyrosine oxidation Manganese Oxygen evolving complex Rhodobacter sphaeroides Purple bacteria 



Bacteriochlorophyll monomer




Bacterial reaction center




Electron paramagnetic resonance


Special pair of bacteriochlorophylls, primary electron donor of BRC


Photosystem II


Primary electron donor of PSII


Negative logarithm of the proton dissociation constant



YZ and YD

Redox active tyrosine residues of PSII



Our work is supported by the National Science Foundation, grant MCB0640002.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • László Kálmán
    • 1
  • JoAnn C. Williams
    • 2
  • James P. Allen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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