Intelligent Design Plants

Researchers: We switched the direction of electrons in photosynthesis

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Sunlight and leaves (stock image). | Credit: (c) Elena Volkova /
Sunlight and leaves/© Elena Volkova, Adobe Stock

They messed up the way a plant does it and learned something in the process:

Nearly 35 years ago, when the first structure of these types of complexes was unveiled, scientists were surprised to discover that after the absorption of light, the electron transfer processes faced a dilemma: there are two possible pathways for the electron to travel.

In nature, plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria use just one of them — and scientists had no idea why.

What they did know was that the propulsion of the electron across the membrane — effectively harvesting the energy of the photon — required multiple steps.

Argonne and Washington University scientists have managed to interfere with each one of them to change the electron’s trajectory.

“We’ve been on this trail for more than three decades, and it is a great accomplishment that opens up many opportunities,” said Dewey Holten, a chemist at Washington University.

The scientists’ recent article, “Switching sides — Reengineered primary charge separation in the bacterial photosynthetic reaction center,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how they discovered an engineered version of this protein complex that switched the utilization of the pathways, enabling the one that was inactive while disabling the other.

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory, “Scientists unravel mystery of photosynthesis” at ScienceDaily

Actually, it’s not clear from the release whether we are any closer to understanding why plants always choose the other direction, left to themselves. Something more is going on, probably. Nice find though.

Paper. (paywall)

See also: Researchers: Photosynthesis may be a billion years older than we thought

8 Replies to “Researchers: We switched the direction of electrons in photosynthesis

  1. 1
    PeterA says:


  2. 2
    Ed George says:

    Interesting, to say the least. What would be of interest would be to find out if the efficiency is the same, regardless of the direction.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    Plants don’t have free will! 😎

  4. 4
    Truthfreedom says:

    No merit for these scientists, sorry.
    According to materialism, they are “meat robots” (sic).
    No, not kidding.

  5. 5
    Ed George says:

    TF, does Edward Feser know that you are linking to his blog with your WordPress name? Do you think that he would support your behaviour here?

    Moderator: what is the UD policy on a commenter linking his/her moniker to someone other than who they are?

  6. 6
    Truthfreedom says:


    Do you think that he would support your behaviour here?

    Mmmm. Let me think… My neurons have informed the “illusory” me that I do not have free will. Nothing I can do then.
    That is what happens when you are the prisoner of your brain chemistry.
    The problem with atheists is that they can not stand their own ideology.
    Your non-sense is a double-edged sword.

  7. 7
    Ed George says:

    TF, OK, he obviously doesn’t know what you are doing in his name here.

    Moderators, it is one thing to post anonymously, as KF, BA77 and ET do. But to intentionally post and claim to be someone else is beyond the pale.

  8. 8
    Truthfreedom says:

    Oh my. It is true. You have not grown up.
    That is why “magic” and “unicorns” pervade your strange atheistic language.
    Moderators also have not free will. We are all prisoners here, Ed George. In this mechanical maze that is the Universe.

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