Photosynthetic pigment

From Academic Kids

A photosynthetic pigment is a pigment that is present in chloroplasts or photosynthetic bacteria and captures the light energy necessary for photosynthesis.

Contents

Plants

Green plants have five closely-related photosynthetic pigments (in order of increasing polarity):

Chlorophyll a is the most common of the five, present in every plant that performs photosynthesis. The reason that there are so many pigments is that each absorbs light more efficiently in a different part of the spectrum. Chlorophyll a absorbs well at a wavelength of about 400-450 nm and at 650-700 nm; chlorophyll b at 450-500 nm. Xanthophyll absorbs well at 400-530 nm. However, none of the pigments absorbs well in the green-yellow region, which is responsible for the abundant green we see in nature.

Bacteria

Like plants, the cyanobacteria use water as an electron donor for photosynthesis and therefore liberate oxygen; they also use chlorophyll a as pigment. In addition, most cyanobacteria use phycobilin to capture light energy and pass it on to the chlorophylls. (Some cyanobacteria, the prochlorophytes, use chlorophyll b instead of phycobilin.) It is thought that the chloroplasts in plants and algae all evolved from cyanobacteria.

There are several other groups of bacteria which use photosynthesis but do not produce oxygen. These use the bacteriochlorophyll pigments which are similar to the chlorophylls.

Algae

Green algae, red algae and glaucophytes all use chlorophylls. Red algae and glaucophytes also use phycobilin, but green algae do not.

Archaea

Photosynthesis in archaea is quite different from the systems in other domains of life. Photosynthetic archaea (the halobacteria) use the pigment bacteriorhodopsin which acts directly as a proton pump when exposed to light.

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