Absorption Changes in Bacterial Chromatophores

Irwin D. Kuntz*, Paul A. Loach, Melvin Calvin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The magnitude and kinetics of photo-induced absorption changes in bacterial chromatophores (R. rubrum, R. spheroides and Chromatium) have been studied as a function of potential, established by added redox couples. No photochanges can be observed above +0.55 v or below -0.15 v. The loss of signal at the higher potential is centered at +0.439 v and follows a one-electron change. The loss of signal at the lower potential is centered at -0.044 v and is also consistent with a one-electron change. Both losses are reversible. A quantitative relationship exists between light-minus-dark and oxidized-minus-reduced spectra in the near infrared from +0.30 to +0.55 v. Selective treatment of the chromatophores with strong oxidants irreversibly bleaches the bulk pigments but appears to leave intact those pigments responsible for the photo- and chemically-induced absorption changes. Kinetic studies of the photochanges in deaerated samples of R. rubrum chromatophores revealed the same rise time for bands at 433, 792, and 865 mμ (t½ = 50 msec.). However, these bands had different decay rates (t½ = 1.5, 0.5, 0.15 sec., respectively), indicating that they belong to different pigments. Analysis of the data indicates, as the simplest interpretation, a first-order (or pseudo first-order) forward reaction and two parallel first-order (or pseudo first-order) decay reactions at each wavelength. These results imply that all pigments whose kinetics are given are photooxidized and the decay processes are dark reductions. These experiments are viewed as supporting and extending the concept of a bacterial photosynthetic unit, with energy migration within it to specific sites of electron transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-249
Number of pages23
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1964

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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