Hello, Last time I studied plant physiology was in the early nineties. I have a question left over from that time which might have been answered by science since then, and I thought someone here might know. It's about the "red shift" observed in photosynthesis. It was known at the time that chlorophyll (and other similar molecules) in the leaf (in vivo) absorbs light at a value on the light spectrum that's closer to red, when compared to how it absorbs in the test tube (in vitro). This "red shift" was observed and confirmed but not explained. Has it been solved? Why the red shift?

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Hello, Last time I studied plant physiology was in the early nineties. I have a question left over from that time which might have been answered by science since then, and I thought someone here might know. It's about the "red shift" observed in photosynthesis. It was known at the time that chlorophyll (and other similar molecules) in the leaf (in vivo) absorbs light at a value on the light spectrum that's closer to red, when compared to how it absorbs in the test tube (in vitro). This "red shift" was observed and confirmed but not explained. Has it been solved? Why the red shift?

Biology
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On the chlorophyll front, many things happened during the nineties, so I don't know where you are standing science-wise. But maybe, you will find some stuff that you didn't know already in my answer. :-) I believe, it was a german guy who crystallized a complete photosystem. That was somewhere in the nineties, around 1993 (?), I think. Before that, you actually couldn't observe photosynthesis in vitro, but this guy made it possible. Forgot his name, though... Okay, the kicker in his observations was the apoprotein he cocrystallized. There are countless assisting factors: pigments, regulating proteins, scaffolds... Now these all interact with the Photosystem in many ways. It is believed that the redshift is caused by one or all of this phenomena: - an interaction with the apoprotein through Glu/Asp - an interaction with the electromagnetic field generated through the membrane, where other accessory pigments and proteins are. As you will know, the redshift's function lies in the energy efficiency. your plant will want an electron with exactly the right amount of energy to avoid overheating in stressful situations. For further reading, this is the core paper I found: http://www.iupac.org/publications/pac/pdf/1991/pdf/6301x0123.pdf The "other pathway" of electron transfer was cleard up recently: I seems that this part of electron transport chain uses a quantum mechanic phenomenon instead of Qx transition. Read further here: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110615/full/474272a.html Hope I helped you. :-)
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer. I had already studied the paper by Mamoru Mimuro and Tetzuya Katoh, and it seems at their time it was still thought that either the "association" with other proteins, or electrical/electronic qualities of the system in vivo caused the Red Shift. But I don't think it was ever proven or explained. As far as the quantum side of things is concerned, the Red Shift does not even enter the question. When wearing those "lenses" we view reality as consisting of particles, not waves, and the only oscillations recognized there are in and out of existence, rather than frequencies of a pulsating field. I'd be happy to read more and to sort through more materials in answers posted here. Thanks!

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