The evolution of photosystem I in light of phage-encoded reaction centres

Yuval Mazor, Ilanit Greenberg, Hila Toporik, Oded Beja, Nathan Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent structural determinations and metagenomic studies shed light on the evolution of photosystem I (PSI) from the homodimeric reaction centre of primitive bacteria to plant PSI at the top of the evolutionary development. The evolutionary scenario of over 3.5 billion years reveals an increase in the complexity of PSI. This phenomenon of ever-increasing complexity is common to all evolutionary processes that in their advanced stages are highly dependent on fine-tuning of regulatory processes. On the other hand, the recently discovered virus-encoded PSI complexes contain a minimal number of subunits. This may reflect the unique selection scenarios associated with viral replication. It may be beneficial for future engineering of productive processes to utilize 'primitive' complexes that disregard the cellular regulatory processes and to avoid those regulatory constraints when our goal is to divert the process from its original route. In this article, we discuss the evolutionary forces that act on viral reaction centres and the role of the virus-carried photosynthetic genes in the evolution of photosynthesis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3400-3405
Number of pages6
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1608
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolution
  • Lateral gene transfer
  • Marine viruses
  • Photosynthesis
  • Reaction centres


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