Proton-Pumping Microbial Rhodopsins – Ubiquitous Structurally Simple Helpers of Respiration and Photosynthesis

  • Leonid S. BrownEmail author
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 39)


For almost four decades, bacteriorhodopsin has served as a classic example of the simplest standalone proton gradient generator. Bacteriorhodopsin-based bioenergetics was viewed as the most basic type of photosynthesis, becoming useful under limiting oxygen conditions only in a small group of extremophilic haloarchaea. With the advent of genomic and metagenomic high-throughput sequencing, the taxonomic and ecological diversity of bacteriorhodopsin-related proteins (microbial rhodopsins) appeared to be large. In this chapter, we survey structural and taxonomic diversity of proton-pumping microbial rhodopsins, describing haloarchaeal, fungal, algal, and eubacterial representatives, including those in photosynthetic organisms. Comparison of both primary and 3-D structures is made, and common structural trends are pointed out. Finally, we outline the main structural blocks involved in light-driven proton-transport mechanism, and discuss its conserved and variable parts.


Schiff Base Proton Donor Proton Transport Cytoplasmic Side Extracellular Side 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Acetabularia rhodopsin-2;


– Archaerhodopsin;


– Bacteriorhodopsin;


– Green-absorbing proteorhodopsin;


Gloeobacter rhodopsin;


– Proteorhodopsin;


– Rhodopsin;


– Transmembrane;


– Xanthorhodopsin



This work is supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the University of Guelph.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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