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In plant In plant, photosynthesis occurs in specialized organelles called chloroplasts.

The internal membranes of chloroplasts are organized into sac called thylakoids. Surrounding the thylakoid membrane system is a semiliquid substance called stroma. Photosynthetic pigments are clustered together to form photosystems. When a photon of light strikes the reaction center of photosystem II, it excites an electron. Two water molecules bind to an enzyme at the reaction center. This enzyme splits the water and uses the electrons from the water to replace the electrons removed from the reaction center. Oxygen is produced in this process. The primary electron acceptor for the light-energized electrons leaving photosystem II is plastoquinone. The reduced plastoquinone passes the excited electrons to a proton pump embedded in the membrane called the b6-f complex. Arrival of the energetic electrons causes the b6-f complex to pump protons from the stroma into the thylakoid space, thereby generating a proton gradient across the membrane. Because the thylakoid membrane is impermeable to protons, the protons in the stroma must pass through the channels provided by ATP synthase. As proton past through, ADP is phosphorylated to ATP and released into the stroma. This process for making ATP is referred to as photophosphorylation. When photoshystem I absorbs a photon of light, its reaction center passes high-energy electrons to ferredoxin. The enzyme NADP reductase then transfers the electrons to NADP to form NADPH. Electrons lost from photosystem I are replaced by electrons generated from photosystem II. A small protein called plastocyanin (pC) then carries the electrons from the b6-f complex to photosystem I.

In bacteria in bacteria photosynthesis, a single photosystem is involved. When an electron is energized by absorption of light, it is ejected from the photosystem reaction center. The electron then passes to ferredoxin, and then down through the cytochrome b6-f complex, plastocyanin (pC), and finally back to the reaction center. The energy released during this electron transport generates a proton gradient which is used to produce ATP. Since the excited electron returns to the reaction center, this mechanism for making ATP is called cyclic photophosphorylation. The reducing power needed for biosynthesis is not generated in the process of cyclic photophosphorylation. Plants and cyanobacteria utilize two photosystems which work sequentially to produce both energy and reducing power. First, a photon of light ejects a high-energy electron from photosystem II. The electron lost from photosystem II does not return to photosystem II, but is replaced by an electron generated from the splitting of water and the production of oxygen. The electron then travels from the excited reaction center of photosystem II to plastoquinone, to the b6-f complex, to plastocyanin and finally to the reaction center of photosystem I. This electron transport system generates a proton motive force that is used to produce ATP. Since the excited electron does not return to photosystem II, this mechanism for making ATP is called noncyclic photophosphorylation. When photosystem I absorbs a photon of light, it ejects a high-energy electron. The energy from this light absorption is used to generate reducing power in the form of NADPH. The ejected electron is replaced by an electron from photosystem II.