Multicellular marine plants were collected from their natural habitats and the quantum efficiency of their photosynthesis was determined in the laboratory in five narrow wave length bands in the visible spectrum. The results along with estimates of the relative absorption by the various plastid pigments show a fairly uniform efficiency of 0.08 molecules O2 per absorbed quantum for (a) chlorophyll of one flowering plant, green algae, and brown algae, (b) fucoxanthol and other carotenoids of brown algae, and (c) the phycobilin pigments phycocyanin and phycoerythrin of red algae. The carotenoids of green algae are sometimes less efficient while those of red algae are largely or entirely inactive. Chlorophyll a of red algae is about one-half as efficient (ϕo2 = 0.04) as either the phycobilins, or the chlorophyll of most other plants. These results as well as those of high intensity and of fluorescence experiments are consistent with a mechanism in which about half the chlorophyll is inactive while the other half is fully active and is an intermediate in phycoerythrin- and phycocyanin-sensitized photosynthesis.

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