Letter | Published:

Two photosystems controlling behavioural responses of Halobacterium halobium

Naturevolume 257pages4648 (1975) | Download Citation



Halobacterium halobium contains a retinal–protein complex, bacteriorhodopsin, which is the only protein of the so-called purple membrane forming distinct patches within the surface membrane1,2. Bacteriorhodopsin acts as a photoreceptor molecule and is chemically similar to the visual pigment rhodopsin1,3. On illumination bacteriorhodopsin undergoes a fast cyclic photoreaction with at least four intermediates occurring after microseconds and milliseconds4–6. Various experiments indicate that bacteriorhodopsin functions as a light-driven proton pump which builds up a proton gradient across the cell membrane and is used for ATP synthesis7,8. Thus its primary function, different from that of rhodopsin in the eye, seems to be energy transformation7. Moreover, H. halobium shows light dependent motor responses, and so we supposed that bacteriorhodopsin also has a sensory function. To test this possibility we obtained action spectra for the light-induced behavioural responses from H. halobium. We found two photosystems, one of which shows that bacteriorhodopsin is involved in the light-controlled motor response.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Oesterhelt, D., and Stoeckenius, W., Nature new Biol., 233, 149–152 (1971).

  2. 2

    Blaurock, A. E., and Stoeckenius, W., Nature new Biol., 233, 152–154 (1971).

  3. 3

    Oesterhelt, D., Meentzen, M., and Schumann, L., Eur. J. Biochem., 40, 453–463 (1973).

  4. 4

    Kayushin, L. P., et al., Studia biophys., 42, 71–74 (1974).

  5. 5

    Dencher, N., and Wilms, M., Biophys. Struct. Mechanism, 1, 259–271 (1975).

  6. 6

    Stoeckenius, W., and Lozier, R. H., J. supramolec. Struct., 2, 769–774 (1974).

  7. 7

    Oesterhelt, D., and Stoeckenius, W., Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 70, 2853–2857 (1973).

  8. 8

    Danon, A., and Stoeckenius, W., Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 71, 1234–1238 (1974).

  9. 9

    Diehn, B., Science, 181, 1009–1015 (1973).

  10. 10

    Kropf, A., Vision Res., 7, 811–818 (1967).

  11. 11

    Kelly, M., Norgard, S., and Liaaen-Jensen, S., Acta chem. scand., 24, 2169–2182 (1970).

  12. 12

    Macnab, R., and Koshland, D. E., Jr, J. molec. Biol., 84, 399–406 (1974).

  13. 13

    Racker, E., and Stoeckenius, W., J. biol. Chem., 249, 662–663 (1974).

  14. 14

    Kayushin, L. P., and Skulachev, V. P., FEBS Lett., 39, 39–42 (1974).

  15. 15

    Drachev, L. A., Kaulen, A. D., Ostroumov, S. A., and Skulachev, V. P., FEBS Lett., 39, 43–45 (1974).

  16. 16

    Dundas, J. D., and Larsen, H., Archs Mikrobiol., 44, 233–239 (1962).

Download references

Author information


  1. Institut für Neurobiologie der Kernforschungsanlage, D–517 Jülich, Postfach, 1913, FRG



  1. Search for EILO HILDEBRAND in:

  2. Search for NORBERT DENCHER in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.