Photosynthesis is arguably the fundamental process of life, since it enables energy from the Sun to enter the food chain on the Earth. It is a remarkable non-equilibrium process in which photons are converted to manybody excitations, which traverse a complex biomolecular membrane, where they are captured and fuel chemical reactions within a reaction center (RC) in order to produce nutrients. The precise nature of these dynamical processes-which lie at the interface between quantum and classical behavior and involve both noise and coordination-is still being explored. Here, we focus on a striking recent empirical finding concerning an illumination-driven transition in the biomolecular membrane architecture of the purple bacteria Rsp. photometricum. Using stochastic realizations to describe a hopping rate model for excitation transfer, we show numerically and analytically that this surprising shift in preferred architectures can be traced to the interplay between the excitation kinetics and the RC dynamics. The net effect is that the bacteria profit from efficient metabolism at low illumination intensities while using dissipation to avoid an oversupply of energy at high illumination intensities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)