Energy production in biology

Simple physical mechanisms are behind the flow of energy in all forms of life. Energy comes to living systems through electrons occupying high energy states, either from food (respiratory chains) or from light (photosynthesis). Life's ability to transfer electrons over large distances with nearly zero loss of free energy is puzzling and has not been accomplished in synthetic systems. We study mechanisms of energetic efficiency in respiration energy chains and photosynthesis.          

  • "Protein electron transfer: Dynamics and statistics", J. Chem. Phys. 139, 025102 (2013). 
  •  "Microsecond dynamics of the protein and water affect electron transfer in a bacterial 1 complex," Daniel R. Martin and Dmitry V. Matyushov, J. Chem. Phys. 142, 161101 (2015)
  • "Protein-water electrostatics and principles of bioenergetics", D. N. LeBard and D. V. Matyushov, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 12, 15335 (2010)

Electrowetting in Photosynthetic Electron Transfer

Enzymes drain the chemical potentials from the surrounding medium to drive reactions. The relevant reduction of entropy is equivalent to creating the information content, with a strong analogy to the performance of a computational unit. To secure such information processing, the principle operation of a diode, allowing unidirectional electrical current, needs to be built into an electron transport enzyme. The bacterial reaction center is a central unit of the bacterial ‘‘computer’’. We find that water pumping in a protein cavity, following electron transfer, is the design principle behind the diode action.