Thylakoid membrane preparations active in photosynthetic electron transport have been obtained from two marine red algae, Griffithsia monilis and Anotrichium tenue. High concentrations (0.5-1.0 M) of salts such as phosphate, citrate, succinate and tartrate stabilized functional binding of phycobilisomes to the membrane and also stabilized Photosystem II-catalysed electron-transport activity. High concentrations (1.0 M) of chloride and nitrate, or 30 mM-Tricine/NaOH buffer (pH 7.2) in the absence of salts, detached phycobilisomes and inhibited electron transport through Photosystem II. The O2-evolving system was identified as the electron-transport chain component that was inhibited under these conditions. Washing membranes with buffers containing 1.0-1.5 M-sorbitol and 5-50 mM concentrations of various salts removed the outer part of the phycobilisome but retained 30-70% of the allophycocyanin ‘core’ of the phycobilisome. These preparations were 30-70% active in O2 evolution compared with unwashed membranes. In the sensitivity of their O2-evolving apparatus to the composition of the medium in vitro, the red algae resembled blue-green algae and differed from other eukaryotic algae and higher plants. It is suggested that an environment of structured water may be essential for the functional integrity of Photosystem II in biliprotein-containing algae.

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