Circular spectropolarimetric sensing of higher plant and algal chloroplast structural variations

C. H. Lucas Patty, Freek Ariese, Wybren Jan Buma, Inge Loes ten Kate, Rob J. M. van Spanning, Frans Snik

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Photosynthetic eukaryotes show a remarkable variability in photosynthesis, including large differences in light-harvesting proteins and pigment composition. In vivo circular spectropolarimetry enables us to probe the molecular architecture of photosynthesis in a non-invasive and non-destructive way and, as such, can offer a wealth of physiological and structural information. In the present study, we have measured the circular polarizance of several multicellular green, red, and brown algae and higher plants, which show large variations in circular spectropolarimetric signals with differences in both spectral shape and magnitude. Many of the algae display spectral characteristics not previously reported, indicating a larger variation in molecular organization than previously assumed. As the strengths of these signals vary by three orders of magnitude, these results also have important implications in terms of detectability for the use of circular polarization as a signature of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Algae
  • Chlorophyll
  • Chloroplast
  • Circular polarization
  • Photosynthesis


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