Control phenomena in biology usually refer to changes in gene expression and protein translation and modification. In this paper, another mode of regulation is highlighted; we propose that photosynthetic organisms can harness the interplay between localization and delocalization of energy transfer by utilizing small conformational changes in the structure of light-harvesting complexes. We examine the mechanism of energy transfer in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes, first through the scope of theoretical work and then by in vitro studies of these complexes. Next, the biological relevance to evolutionary fitness of this localization-delocalization switch is explored by in vivo experiments on desert crust and marine cyanobacteria, which are both exposed to rapidly changing environmental conditions. These examples demonstrate the flexibility and low energy cost of this mechanism, making it a competitive survival strategy.
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© 2022 The Authors. Physiologia Plantarum published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society.