How living things capture energy from the Sun decoded

London: A specific combination of lipids contributes to how living creatures capture sunlight and convert it into energy, a new study suggests.

Since Alexandre Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839, humankind has sought to further understand and harness the power of sunlight for its own purposes.

Scientists may have uncovered a new method of exploiting the power of sunlight by focusing on a naturally occurring combination of lipids that have been strikingly conserved throughout evolution.

This conservation – or persistence over time and across species – suggests that this specific natural combination of lipids is important for ensuring light capture and conversion.

We confirmed the properties of individual thylakoid galactoglycerolipid (or glycolipid) classes previously reports as HII forming lipids, but brought to light how these properties are subtly orchestrated in the matrix in which proteins are embedded, as contributing components for the elaboration of the architecture of photosynthetic membranes and its dynamics,” said Juliette Jouhet from the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire and Vegetale at the Institut de Recherches en Technologies et Sciences pour le Vivant in Grenoble, France.

Jouhet and colleagues analysed bio-mimetic membranes reconstructed with different mixtures of natural lipids, so as to comprehend the contribution of each one of them in the observed biophysical properties.

They then analysed the membranes by neutron diffraction methods. The cohesion between membranes was analysed by the evolution of the distance between bilayers upon hydration.

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