Physiology of the Photosynthetic Prokaryotes

  • John G. Ormerod
Part of the Biotechnology Handbooks book series (BTHA, volume 6)


Living organisms grow by synthesizing in an ordered fashion the complex macromolecules of their own cells from simpler molecules. In general, the energy requirements for this can be met either by degrading part of the nutritional substrate for respiration (heterotrophic organisms) or by converting light energy into chemical energy as in the phototrophic organisms. The proportions of these two types of organisms on the earth are difficult to estimate, but their activities balance each other. In the long term both types are dependent on each other for major nutrients—heterotrophs must have the oxygen and organic molecules produced by photosynthesis; the phototrophs depend on the heterotrophs for keeping the oxygen content of the atmosphere at a tolerable level and for carbon dioxide, produced by respiration. The phototrophs also depend on sunlight, which is the driving force for the whole system. The two modes of life, heterotrophy and photototrophy, must have existed side by side on the surface of the earth for thousands of millions of years.


Reaction Center Photosynthetic Bacterium Phototrophic Bacterium Photosynthetic Reaction Centre Polyaspartic Acid 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Ormerod
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology Department, Division of Molecular Cell BiologyUniversity of Oslo, BlindernOslo 3Norway

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