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Atomistic study of energy funneling in the light-harvesting complex of green sulfur bacteria

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      Abstract

      Phototrophic organisms such as plants, photosynthetic bacteria and algae use microscopic complexes of pigment molecules to absorb sunlight. Within the light-harvesting complexes, which frequently have several functional and structural subunits, the energy is transferred in the form of molecular excitations with very high efficiency. Green sulfur bacteria are considered to be amongst the most efficient light-harvesting organisms. Despite multiple experimental and theoretical studies of these bacteria the physical origin of the efficient and robust energy transfer in their light-harvesting complexes is not well understood. To study excitation dynamics at the systems level we introduce an atomistic model that mimics a complete light-harvesting apparatus of green sulfur bacteria. The model contains approximately 4000 pigment molecules and comprises a double wall roll for the chlorosome, a baseplate and six Fenna-Matthews-Olson trimer complexes. We show that the fast relaxation within functional subunits combined with the transfer between collective excited states of pigments can result in robust energy funneling. Energy transfer is robust on the initial excitation conditions and temperature changes. Moreover, the same mechanism describes the coexistence of multiple timescales of excitation dynamics frequently observed in ultrafast optical experiments. While our findings support the hypothesis of supertransfer, the model reveals energy transport through multiple channels on different length scales.

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      Scalable molecular dynamics with NAMD.

      NAMD is a parallel molecular dynamics code designed for high-performance simulation of large biomolecular systems. NAMD scales to hundreds of processors on high-end parallel platforms, as well as tens of processors on low-cost commodity clusters, and also runs on individual desktop and laptop computers. NAMD works with AMBER and CHARMM potential functions, parameters, and file formats. This article, directed to novices as well as experts, first introduces concepts and methods used in the NAMD program, describing the classical molecular dynamics force field, equations of motion, and integration methods along with the efficient electrostatics evaluation algorithms employed and temperature and pressure controls used. Features for steering the simulation across barriers and for calculating both alchemical and conformational free energy differences are presented. The motivations for and a roadmap to the internal design of NAMD, implemented in C++ and based on Charm++ parallel objects, are outlined. The factors affecting the serial and parallel performance of a simulation are discussed. Finally, typical NAMD use is illustrated with representative applications to a small, a medium, and a large biomolecular system, highlighting particular features of NAMD, for example, the Tcl scripting language. The article also provides a list of the key features of NAMD and discusses the benefits of combining NAMD with the molecular graphics/sequence analysis software VMD and the grid computing/collaboratory software BioCoRE. NAMD is distributed free of charge with source code at www.ks.uiuc.edu. (c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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        Comparison of multiple Amber force fields and development of improved protein backbone parameters.

        The ff94 force field that is commonly associated with the Amber simulation package is one of the most widely used parameter sets for biomolecular simulation. After a decade of extensive use and testing, limitations in this force field, such as over-stabilization of alpha-helices, were reported by us and other researchers. This led to a number of attempts to improve these parameters, resulting in a variety of "Amber" force fields and significant difficulty in determining which should be used for a particular application. We show that several of these continue to suffer from inadequate balance between different secondary structure elements. In addition, the approach used in most of these studies neglected to account for the existence in Amber of two sets of backbone phi/psi dihedral terms. This led to parameter sets that provide unreasonable conformational preferences for glycine. We report here an effort to improve the phi/psi dihedral terms in the ff99 energy function. Dihedral term parameters are based on fitting the energies of multiple conformations of glycine and alanine tetrapeptides from high level ab initio quantum mechanical calculations. The new parameters for backbone dihedrals replace those in the existing ff99 force field. This parameter set, which we denote ff99SB, achieves a better balance of secondary structure elements as judged by improved distribution of backbone dihedrals for glycine and alanine with respect to PDB survey data. It also accomplishes improved agreement with published experimental data for conformational preferences of short alanine peptides and better accord with experimental NMR relaxation data of test protein systems. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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          Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems.

          Photosynthetic complexes are exquisitely tuned to capture solar light efficiently, and then transmit the excitation energy to reaction centres, where long term energy storage is initiated. The energy transfer mechanism is often described by semiclassical models that invoke 'hopping' of excited-state populations along discrete energy levels. Two-dimensional Fourier transform electronic spectroscopy has mapped these energy levels and their coupling in the Fenna-Matthews-Olson (FMO) bacteriochlorophyll complex, which is found in green sulphur bacteria and acts as an energy 'wire' connecting a large peripheral light-harvesting antenna, the chlorosome, to the reaction centre. The spectroscopic data clearly document the dependence of the dominant energy transport pathways on the spatial properties of the excited-state wavefunctions of the whole bacteriochlorophyll complex. But the intricate dynamics of quantum coherence, which has no classical analogue, was largely neglected in the analyses-even though electronic energy transfer involving oscillatory populations of donors and acceptors was first discussed more than 70 years ago, and electronic quantum beats arising from quantum coherence in photosynthetic complexes have been predicted and indirectly observed. Here we extend previous two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy investigations of the FMO bacteriochlorophyll complex, and obtain direct evidence for remarkably long-lived electronic quantum coherence playing an important part in energy transfer processes within this system. The quantum coherence manifests itself in characteristic, directly observable quantum beating signals among the excitons within the Chlorobium tepidum FMO complex at 77 K. This wavelike characteristic of the energy transfer within the photosynthetic complex can explain its extreme efficiency, in that it allows the complexes to sample vast areas of phase space to find the most efficient path.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            02 July 2013
            2013-11-22
            1307.0886
            10.1021/ja412035q

            http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

            Custom metadata
            J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136 (5), pp 2048-2057
            15 pages, 14 figures
            physics.chem-ph physics.bio-ph quant-ph

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