Plant photosynthesis relies on the capacity of chlorophylls and carotenoids to absorb light. One of the roles of carotenoids is to harvest green-blue light and transfer the excitation energy to the chlorophylls. The corresponding dynamics were investigated here for the first time, to our knowledge, in the CP26 and CP24 minor antenna complexes. The results for the two complexes differ substantially. In CP26 fast transfer (80 fs) occurs from the carotenoid S(2) state to chlorophylls a absorbing at 675 and 678 nm, whereas transfer from the hot S(1) state to the lowest energy chlorophylls is observed in <1 ps. In CP24, energy transfer from the S(2) state leads in 80 fs to the population of chlorophylls b and high-energy chlorophylls a absorbing at 670 nm, whereas the low-energy chlorophylls a are populated only in several picoseconds. The results suggest that CP26 has a structural and functional organization similar to that of LHCII, whereas CP24 differs substantially from the other Lhc complexes, especially regarding the lutein L1 binding domain. No energy transfer from the carotenoid S(1) state to chlorophylls was observed in either complex, suggesting that this state is energetically below the chlorophyll Qy state and therefore may play a role in the quenching of chlorophyll excitations.
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