Energy equilibration in the photosystem I core antenna from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 was studied using femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy at 298 K. The photosystem I core particles were excited at 660, 693, and 710 nm with 150 fs spectrally narrow laser pulses (fwhm = 5 nm). Global analysis revealed three kinetic processes in the core antenna with lifetimes of 250-500 fs, 1.5-2.5 ps, and 20-30 ps. The first two components represent strongly excitation wavelength-dependent energy equilibration processes while the 20-30 ps phase reflects the trapping of energy by the reaction center. Excitation into the blue and red edge of the absorption band induces downhill and uphill energy flows, respectively, between different chlorophyll a spectral forms of the core. Excitation at 660 nm induces a 500 fs downhill equilibration process within the bulk of antenna while the selective excitation of long-wavelength-absorbing chlorophylls at 710 nm results in a 380 fs uphill energy transfer to the chlorophylls absorbing around 695-700 nm, presumably reaction center pigments. The 1.5-2.5 ps phases of downhill and uphill energy transfer are largely equivalent but opposite in direction, indicating energy equilibration between bulk antenna chlorophylls at 685 nm and spectral forms absorbing below 700 nm. Transient absorption spectra with excitation at 693 nm exhibit spectral evolution within ≃2 ps of uphill energy transfer to major spectral forms at 680 nm and downhill energy transfer to red pigments at 705 nm. The 20-30 ps trapping component and P700 photooxidation spectra derived from data on the 100 ps scale are largely excitation wavelength independent. An additional decay component of red pigments at 710 nm can be induced either by selective excitation of red pigments or by decreasing the temperature to 264 K. This component may represent one of the phases of energy transfer from inhomogeneously broadened red pigments to P700. The data are discussed based on the available structural model of the photosystem I reaction center and its core antenna.
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