The ultrastructure of Chlorobium tepidum chlorosomes revealed by electron microscopy

Martin F. Hohmann-Marriott, Robert E. Blankenship, Robert Roberson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Chlorosomes are the light harvesting structures of green photosynthetic bacteria. Each chlorosome from green sulfur bacteria houses hundreds of thousands of bacteriochlorophyll molecules in addition to smaller amounts of chlorobiumquinone and carotenoids. In electron microscopy studies, chlorosomes exhibit different appearances depending on the fixation method used. Fixation with osmium tetroxide results in electron-transparent chlorosomes. Fixation with potassium permanganate results in clearly delineated electron-dense chlorosomes. This fixation method features an electron-transparent area in the interior of the chlorosome. In addition to electron density patterns that can be considered compositions of rod-shaped elements, chlorosomes exhibit a striation pattern that is oriented parallel to the longitudinal axis. Treatment with osmium tetroxide followed by potassium permanganate treatment results in a more diffused density distribution that outlines connecting elements between the chlorosome and the cytoplasmic membrane, and connecting elements between the cytoplasmic membrane and the outer membrane, which act as a diffusion barrier for electron density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Chlorosome
  • Electron microscopy
  • Fixation protocol
  • Green sulfur bacteria
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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