From Purple Membranes to Pigmented Proteins: How Rhodopsins Sense and Harvest Light.
An estimated 13% of bacteria in the nutrient poor, high radiation sunlit surface of oceans were found to contain variants of the protein proteorhodopsin, which could allow them to harvest electromagnetic energy from light.
The most intensely studied light harvesting protein is bacteriorhodopsin. It uses light energy to pump protons out of the bacterial cell. Just as a waterfall can drive a turbine to generate electricity, the protons can run back into the cell and turn the rotary motor of the ATP-synthase, to make the main currency of energy used by the cell (ATP).
How do rhodopsin-like proteins sense light and extract energy from it? Can we use them to fire action potentials in neurons by the flick of a light switch, or to restore vision to the blind? A recent paper reported using a rhodopsin variant as a voltage sensor, to detect action potentials in neurons…how does that work? What do carrots have to do with all this?
Answers are in the images..if you have questions, ask. I teach this stuff and love it!
For all serious science geeks, including Koen De Paus , and Rich Pollett , who rashly agreed to read this.