Researchers based at the University of Glasgow, using X-ray data collected at the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) at CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory, have made a major advance in our understanding of the process by which sunlight is converted to food energy, without which life on earth could not exist. The work is published this week (12 December 2003) in the journal Science.
Green plants convert the sun’s energy to a usable form in a process called photosynthesis, which ultimately gives us all the oxygen and food we need to survive. Photosynthetic bacteria have evolved to do all this efficiently in a single cell, so they make good model systems. The Glasgow team, led by Professors Richard Cogdell and Neil Isaacs, worked out the structure of the LH1 light-absorbing complex and Reaction Centre that lies at the heart of photosynthesis in the purple bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris.
They first isolated and crystallised the intact protein complex from the bacterial cell membrane, then recorded its X-ray diffraction pattern using X-rays generated at the Daresbury synchrotron.‘The highly focused and intense X-ray beam provided at Daresbury was essential for this data collection’, commented Professor Isaacs.
Tony Buckley | alfa
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