Imperial College London

Professor Bill Rutherford FRS

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Chair in Biochemistry of Solar Energy



+44 (0)20 7594 5329a.rutherford Website




702Sir Ernst Chain BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Cardona, Londono T and Sanchez-Baracaldo, P and Rutherford, AW and Larkum, A},
doi = {10.1111/gbi.12322},
journal = {Geobiology},
pages = {127--150},
title = {Early Archean origin of Photosystem II},
url = {},
volume = {17},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Photosystem II is a photochemical reaction center that catalyzes the lightdriven oxidation of water to molecular oxygen. Water oxidation is the distinctive photochemical reaction that permitted the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and the eventual rise of eukaryotes. At what point during the history of life an ancestral photosystem evolved the capacity to oxidize water still remains unknown. Here, we study the evolution of the core reaction center proteins of Photosystem II using sequence and structural comparisons in combination with Bayesian relaxed molecular clocks. Our results indicate that a homodimeric photosystem with sufficient oxidizing power to split water had already appeared in the early Archean about a billion years before the most recent common ancestor of all described Cyanobacteria capable of oxygenic photosynthesis, and well before the diversification of some of the known groups of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria. Based on a structural and functional rationale, we hypothesize that this early Archean photosystem was capable of water oxidation to oxygen and had already evolved protection mechanisms against the formation of reactive oxygen species. This would place primordial forms of oxygenic photosynthesis at a very early stage in the evolutionary history of life.
AU - Cardona,Londono T
AU - Sanchez-Baracaldo,P
AU - Rutherford,AW
AU - Larkum,A
DO - 10.1111/gbi.12322
EP - 150
PY - 2019///
SN - 1472-4669
SP - 127
TI - Early Archean origin of Photosystem II
T2 - Geobiology
UR -
UR -
VL - 17
ER -