Magic-angle spinning NMR, often in combination with photo-CIDNP, is applied to determine how photosynthetic antennae and reaction centers are activated in the ground state to perform their biological function upon excitation by light. Molecular modeling resolves molecular mechanisms by way of computational integration of NMR data with other structure-function analyses. By taking evolutionary historical contingency into account, a better biophysical understanding is achieved. Chlorophyll cofactors and proteins go through self-assembly trajectories that are engineered during evolution and lead to highly homogeneous protein complexes optimized for exciton or charge transfer. Histidine-cofactor interactions allow biological nanomachines to lower energy barriers for light harvesting and charge separation in photosynthetic energy conversion. In contrast, in primordial chlorophyll antenna aggregates, excessive heterogeneity is paired with much less specific characteristics, and both exciton and charge-transfer character are encoded in the ground state.

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Solid-State NMR of Nanomachines Involved in Photosynthetic Energy Conversion: Supplemental Video 1

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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