Light harvesting in photosystem II

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130 Citations (Scopus)


Water oxidation in photosynthesis takes place in photosystem II (PSII). This photosystem is built around a reaction center (RC) where sunlight-induced charge separation occurs. This RC consists of various polypeptides that bind only a few chromophores or pigments, next to several other cofactors. It can handle far more photons than the ones absorbed by its own pigments and therefore, additional excitations are provided by the surrounding light-harvesting complexes or antennae. The RC is located in the PSII core that also contains the inner light-harvesting complexes CP43 and CP47, harboring 13 and 16 chlorophyll pigments, respectively. The core is surrounded by outer light-harvesting complexes (Lhcs), together forming the so-called supercomplexes, at least in plants. These PSII supercomplexes are complemented by some “extra” Lhcs, but their exact location in the thylakoid membrane is unknown. The whole system consists of many subunits and appears to be modular, i.e., both its composition and organization depend on environmental conditions, especially on the quality and intensity of the light. In this review, we will provide a short overview of the relation between the structure and organization of pigment-protein complexes in PSII, ranging from individual complexes to entire membranes and experimental and theoretical results on excitation energy transfer and charge separation. It will become clear that time-resolved fluorescence data can provide invaluable information about the organization and functioning of thylakoid membranes. At the end, an overview will be given of unanswered questions that should be addressed in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-263
Number of pages13
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • excitation-energy transfer
  • plant thylakoid membranes
  • time-resolved fluorescence
  • chlorophyll a/b complex
  • psbs protein controls
  • charge separation
  • reaction centers
  • transient absorption
  • antenna complexes
  • electron-transfer


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