Femtosecond excitation of the red edge of the chlorophyll a QY transition band in photosystem I (PSI), with light of wavelength ≥700 nm, leads to wide transient (subpicosecond) absorbance changes: positive ΔA between 635 and 665 nm, and four negative ΔA bands at 667, 675, 683, and 695 nm. Here we compare the transient absorbance changes after excitation at 700, 705, and 710 nm at 20 K in several PSI preparations of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii where amino acid ligands of the primary donor, primary acceptor, or connecting chlorophylls have been mutated. Most of these mutations influence the spectrum of the absorbance changes. This supports the view that the chlorophylls of the electron transfer chain as well as the connecting chlorophylls are engaged in the observed absorbance changes. The wide absorption spectrum of the electron transfer chain revealed by the transient measurements may contribute to the high efficiency of energy trapping in PSI. Exciton calculations, based on the recent PSI structure, allow an assignment of the ΔA bands to particular chlorophylls: the bands at 675 and 695 nm to the dimers of primary acceptor and accessory chlorophyll and the band at 683 nm to the connecting chlorophylls. Decay of the subpicosecond transient absorption bands may reflect rapid charge separation in the PSI reaction center.
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