Impact of esterified bacteriochlorophylls on the biogenesis of chlorosomes in Chloroflexus aurantiacus

Yaya Wang, Dana M. Freund, Nikki M. Magdaong, Volker S. Urban, Harry A. Frank, Adrian D. Hegeman, Joseph Kuo Hsiang Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A chlorosome is an antenna complex located on the cytoplasmic side of the inner membrane in green photosynthetic bacteria that contains tens of thousands of self-assembled bacteriochlorophylls (BChls). Green bacteria are known to incorporate various esterifying alcohols at the C-17 propionate position of BChls in the chlorosome. The effect of these functional substitutions on the biogenesis of the chlorosome has not yet been fully explored. In this report, we address this question by investigating various esterified bacteriochlorophyll c (BChl c) homologs in the thermophilic green non-sulfur bacterium Chloroflexus aurantiacus. Cultures were supplemented with exogenous long-chain alcohols at 52 °C (an optimal growth temperature) and 44 °C (a suboptimal growth temperature), and the morphology, optical properties and exciton transfer characteristics of chlorosomes were investigated. Our studies indicate that at 44 °C Cfl. aurantiacus synthesizes more carotenoids, incorporates more BChl c homologs with unsaturated and rigid polyisoprenoid esterifying alcohols and produces more heterogeneous BChl c homologs in chlorosomes. Substitution of phytol for stearyl alcohol of BChl c maintains similar morphology of the intact chlorosome and enhances energy transfer from the chlorosome to the membrane-bound photosynthetic apparatus. Different morphologies of the intact chlorosome versus in vitro BChl aggregates are suggested by small-angle neutron scattering. Additionally, phytol cultures and 44 °C cultures exhibit slow assembly of the chlorosome. These results suggest that the esterifying alcohol of BChl c contributes to long-range organization of BChls, and that interactions between BChls with other components are important to the assembly of the chlorosome. Possible mechanisms for how esterifying alcohols affect the biogenesis of the chlorosome are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014


  • Bacteriochlorophylls
  • Chlorosomes
  • Energy transfer
  • Long-chain alcohols
  • Self-assembly

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