Evolution of photosystem i and the control of global enthalpy in an oxidizing world

Nathan Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Life on earth is governed by light, chemical reactions, and the second law of thermodynamics, which defines the tendency for increasing entropy as an expression of disorder or randomness. Life is an expression of increasing order, and a constant influx of energy and loss of entropic wastes are required to maintain or increase order in living organisms. Most of the energy for life comes from sunlight and, thus, photosynthesis underlies the survival of all life forms. Oxygenic photosynthesis determines not only the global amount of enthalpy in living systems, but also the composition of the Earth's atmosphere and surface. Photosynthesis was established on the Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago. The primordial reaction center has been suggested to comprise a homodimeric unit resembling the core complex of the current reaction centers in Chlorobi, Heliobacteria, and Acidobacteria. Here, an evolutionary scenario based on the known structures of the current reaction centers is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Evolution
  • Photosystem I
  • Photosystem II
  • Protein complexes
  • Reaction centers


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