Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

The evolution of photosynthesis and chloroplasts

  • Lars Olof Björn
  • Govindjee Govindjee
Publishing year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 1466-1474
Publication/Series: Current Science
Volume: 96
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: Current Science

Abstract english

This review focuses on what has been learned about the

evolution of photosynthesis in the past five years, and

omits evolution of CO2 assimilation. Oxygenic photosynthesis

(using both photosystems I and II) has evolved

from anoxygenic photosynthesis. The latter occurs in

different variants, using either a type 1 photosystem

resembling photosystem I, or a type 2 photosystem resembling

photosystem II. Opinions differ as to how

two types of photosystem came to be combined in the

same organism, whether by gene transfer between bacteria,

by fusion of bacteria, or as a result of gene duplication

and evolution within one kind of bacterium.

There are also different opinions about when oxygenic

photosynthesis arose, in conjunction with the Great

Oxygenation Event, 2.3 billion years before the present,

or more than a billion years before that.

Cyanobacteria were the first organisms to carry out

oxygenic photosynthesis. Some of them gave rise to

chloroplasts, while others continued to evolve as independent

organisms, and the review outlines both lines

of evolution. At the end we consider the evolution of

photosynthesis in relation to the evolution of our planet.


  • Biological Sciences
  • chloroplast
  • cyanobacteria
  • horizontal gene transfer
  • red algae.
  • bacteriochlorophyll
  • bacteria


  • Photobiology
  • Photobiology-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 0011-3891
Lars Olof Björn
E-mail: lars_olof [dot] bjorn [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus

Molecular Cell Biology

+46 46 222 72 53