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Förster Energy Transfer Theory as Reflected in the Structures of Photosynthetic Light-Harvesting Systems

Authors

  • Dr. Melih Şener,

    1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
    2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
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  • Johan Strümpfer,

    1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
    2. Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
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  • Dr. Jen Hsin,

    1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
    2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
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  • Danielle Chandler,

    1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
    2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
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  • Dr. Simon Scheuring,

    1. U1006 Institut National de la Santé Et Recherche Médicale, Institut Curie, Paris (France)
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  • Prof. C. Neil Hunter,

    1. Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN (UK)
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  • Prof. Klaus Schulten

    Corresponding author
    1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
    2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
    3. Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA)
    • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 (USA), Fax: (+1) 217 244 6078
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Abstract

Förster′s theory of resonant energy transfer underlies a fundamental process in nature, namely the harvesting of sunlight by photosynthetic life forms. The theoretical framework developed by Förster and others describes how electronic excitation migrates in the photosynthetic apparatus of plants, algae, and bacteria from light absorbing pigments to reaction centers where light energy is utilized for the eventual conversion into chemical energy. The demand for highest possible efficiency of light harvesting appears to have shaped the evolution of photosynthetic species from bacteria to plants which, despite a great variation in architecture, display common structural themes founded on the quantum physics of energy transfer as described first by Förster. Herein, Förster’s theory of excitation transfer is summarized, including recent extensions, and the relevance of the theory to photosynthetic systems as evolved in purple bacteria, cyanobacteria, and plants is demonstrated. Förster′s energy transfer formula, as used widely today in many fields of science, is also derived.

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