In this review, we introduce our recent studies on divinyl chlorophylls functioning in unique marine picoplankton Prochlorococcus sp. (1) Essential physicochemical properties of divinyl chlorophylls are compared with those of monovinyl chlorophylls; separation by normal-phase and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography with isocratic eluent mode, absorption spectra in four organic solvents, fluorescence information (emission spectra, quantum yields, and life time), circular dichroism spectra, mass spectra, nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, and redox potentials. The presence of a mass difference of 278 in the mass spectra between [M+H]+ and the ions indicates the presence of a phytyl tail in all the chlorophylls. (2) Precise high-performance liquid chromatography analyses show divinyl chlorophyll a' and divinyl pheophytin a as the minor key components in four kinds of Prochlorococcus sp.; neither monovinyl chlorophyll a' nor monovinyl pheophytin a is detected, suggesting that the special pair in photosystem I and the primary electron acceptor in photosystem II are not monovinyl but divinyl-type chlorophylls. (3) Only Prochlorococcus sp. NIES-2086 possesses both monovinyl chlorophyll b and divinyl chlorophyll b, while any other monovinyl-type chlorophylls are absent in this strain. Monovinyl chlorophyll b is not detected at all in the other three strains. Prochlorococcus sp. NIES-2086 is the first example that has both monovinyl chlorophyll b as well as divinyl chlorophylls a/b as major chlorophylls.
Keywords: Chlorophyll; Divinyl chlorophyll; Pheophytin; Photosynthesis; Prochlorococcus.