Energy Conservation in Heliobacteria: Photosynthesis and Central Carbon Metabolism

  • W. Matthew SattleyEmail author
  • Marie Asao
  • Joseph Kuo-Hsiang Tang
  • Aaron M. Collins
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 39)


Heliobacteria are a group of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria that use a unique pigment, bacteriochlorophyll g, for photosynthetic energy conversion within a type I homodimeric reaction center. Like their nonphotosynthetic relatives the clostridia, heliobacteria have a gram-positive cell structure and can form heat-resistant endospores. Heliobacteria are also unusual in that they are the only anaerobic anoxygenic phototrophs that lack a mechanism for autotrophic growth. Growth of heliobacteria is therefore dependent upon the presence of usable organic carbon sources and occurs either photoheterotrophically or chemotrophically (via pyruvate fermentation). While knowledge of heliobacterial photosynthesis and physiology has steadily increased since the relatively recent discovery of these phototrophs in the 1980s, high-resolution structural data pertaining to features of the heliobacterial photosynthetic apparatus are not yet available. This chapter summarizes our current understanding of energy conservation in heliobacteria as it relates to central carbon metabolism (in both light and dark conditions), electron transport, and light harvesting and photochemistry within the reaction center.


Green Sulfur Bacterium Phototrophic Bacterium Central Carbon Metabolism Anoxygenic Phototrophic Bacterium Anoxygenic Phototroph 
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.



– Chlorophyll acting as an electron carrier within a reaction center;


– Quinone acting as an electron carrier within a reaction center;


– –Adenosine triphosphate;


– –Bacteriochlorophyll;


– Chlorophyll;


– Coenzyme A;

ED pathway

– –Entner-Doudoroff pathway;

EMP pathway

– Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway;

FeS-type RC

– –Reaction center where iron-sulfur clusters are the terminal electron carriers;


– Iron-sulfur electron carrier;


– Green sulfur bacteria;


– α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase;

OTCA cycle

– Oxidative or forward tricarboxylic acid cycle;


– Primary electron donor in the heliobacterial RC;


– Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase;


– Pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase;


– Photosystem I;

Q-type RC

– Reaction center where quinones are the terminal electron acceptors;


– Reaction center;

RTCA cycle

– Reductive or reverse tricarboxylic acid cycle;

TCA cycle

– Tricarboxylic acid cycle



We thank Drs. Robert Blankenship and Michael Madigan for helpful comments and discussions during the preparation of the manuscript and Ann Sattley for assistance in preparing some of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Matthew Sattley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie Asao
    • 2
  • Joseph Kuo-Hsiang Tang
    • 3
  • Aaron M. Collins
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Natural SciencesIndiana Wesleyan UniversityMarionUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Carlson School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Department of BiologyClark UniversityWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.Center for Integrated NanotechnologiesLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA

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