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Theoretical isotopic fractionation of magnesium between chlorophylls

Abstract : Magnesium is the metal at the center of all types of chlorophyll and is thus crucial to photosynthesis. When an element is involved in a biosynthetic pathway its isotopes are fractionated based on the difference of vibrational frequency between the different molecules. With the technical advance of multi-collectors plasma-mass-spectrometry and improvement in analytical precision, it has recently been found that two types of chlorophylls (a and b) are isotopically distinct. These results have very significant implications with regards to the use of Mg isotopes to understand the biosynthesis of chlorophyll. Here we present theoretical constraints on the origin of these isotopic fractionations through ab initio calculations. We present the fractionation factor for chlorphyll a, b, d, and f. We show that the natural isotopic variations among chlorophyll a and b are well explained by isotopic fractionation under equilibrium, which implies exchanges of Mg during the chlorophyll cycle. We predict that chlorophyll d and f should be isotopically fractionated compared to chlorophyll a and that this could be used in the future to understand the biosynthesis of these molecules.
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Frédéric Moynier, Toshiyuki Fujii. Theoretical isotopic fractionation of magnesium between chlorophylls. Scientific Reports, 2017, 7, pp.6973. ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-07305-6⟩. ⟨insu-02917461⟩

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