Formyl group modification of chlorophyll a: a major evolutionary mechanism in oxygenic photosynthesis


M. Schliep. e-mail:


We discuss recent advances in chlorophyll research in the context of chlorophyll evolution and conclude that some derivations of the formyl side chain arrangement of the porphyrin ring from that of the Chl a macrocycle can extend the photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) of these molecules, for example, Chl d and Chl f absorb light in the near-infrared region, up to ∼750 nm. Derivations such as this confer a selective advantage in particular niches and may, therefore, be beneficial for photosynthetic organisms thriving in light environments with particular light signatures, such as red- and near-far-red light-enriched niches. Modelling of formyl side chain substitutions of Chl a revealed yet unidentified but theoretically possible Chls with a distinct shift of light absorption properties when compared to Chl a.