Biologists have traditionally left quantum theory to physicists. But the complicated interactions between matter and energy predicted by quantum mechanics appears to play a role in photosynthesis, according to a study published this week in Nature -- affecting how energy from the sun makes its way to a cell's reaction centers before being converted to chemical energy that powers cellular functions.
Cryptophye algae from the ocean
(species Rhodomonas)

Image: Dr. Tihana Mirkovic,
University of Toronto
"The main surprise was that you could actually see" these quantum effects influencing real world biology, said biophysicist linkurl:Rienk van Grondelle; of VU University in Amsterdam, who did not participate in the work, and "that you could observe this phenomenon underlying how [photosynthesis] was working." Quantum mechanics is a theory that describes the behavior of subatomic particles such as photons and electrons. But scientists have long believed that predictions made by the theory would...

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