The chlorosome: a prototype for efficient light harvesting in photosynthesis

Photosynth Res. 2010 Jun;104(2-3):245-55. doi: 10.1007/s11120-010-9533-0. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


Three phyla of bacteria include phototrophs that contain unique antenna systems, chlorosomes, as the principal light-harvesting apparatus. Chlorosomes are the largest known supramolecular antenna systems and contain hundreds of thousands of BChl c/d/e molecules enclosed by a single membrane leaflet and a baseplate. The BChl pigments are organized via self-assembly and do not require proteins to provide a scaffold for efficient light harvesting. Their excitation energy flows via a small protein, CsmA embedded in the baseplate to the photosynthetic reaction centres. Chlorosomes allow for photosynthesis at very low light intensities by ultra-rapid transfer of excitations to reaction centres and enable organisms with chlorosomes to live at extraordinarily low light intensities under which no other phototrophic organisms can grow. This article reviews several aspects of chlorosomes: the supramolecular and molecular organizations and the light-harvesting and spectroscopic properties. In addition, it provides some novel information about the organization of the baseplate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll / chemistry
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Photosynthesis*
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Chlorophyll