Biochemistry: Chromatic adaptation of photosynthetic membranes
Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
Many biological membranes adapt in response to environmental conditions. We investigated how the composition and architecture of photosynthetic membranes of a bacterium change in response to light, using atomic force microscopy. Despite large modifications in the membrane composition, the local environment of core complexes remained unaltered, whereas specialized paracrystalline light-harvesting antenna domains grew under low-light conditions. Thus, the protein mixture in the membrane shows eutectic behavior and can be mimicked by a simple model. Such structural adaptation ensures efficient photon capture under low-light conditions and prevents photodamage under high-light conditions.