Light-harvesting and light-protecting pigments in simple life forms

Authors


* Email: timldawson@aol.com

Abstract

Photosynthesis is the basis of life on the earth and the development of the vast range of simple organisms existing today can often be traced back to the earliest geological times. Most life forms depend directly or indirectly on the synthetic processes which harvest the sun's energy, utilising a range of pigments such as the chlorophylls and carotenoids, which not only determine the colour of each organism, but often also serve a protective role against the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation. Recent research has elucidated the detailed photochemical mechanisms and the complex nature of the light-harvesting pigment–protein complexes. This review covers algae and fungi and their symbiotic forms in lichens and corals, particularly with respect to the pigments they synthesise and the commercial uses to which these and other metabolites have been (and may in the future be) put.

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