[Expired] 79th Harden Conference: Oxygen Evolution and Reduction – Common Principles

16—20 April 2016, Grauer Bär, Innsbruck, Austria


The oxygen evolving complex (OEC) of photosystem II is responsible for the formation from water of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Cytochrome oxidase (CO) and related respiratory oxidases convert oxygen back into water as part of the respiratory processes that provide the energy for survival of most living organisms.

The underlying redox chemistry of oxygen/water interconversion is complex. The OEC and CO systems have evolved unique mechanisms of catalysis which very effectively combine efficiency, stability and speed with avoidance of release of damaging, partially reduced, reactive oxygen species (ROS). Such remarkable performance has yet to be achieved with any (bio)mimetic chemical systems.

The structures of the metal-containing sites and the proteins that house them have been elucidated at high resolution by X-ray crystallography. Their makeup is amenable to the application of most biophysical and spectroscopic techniques and their properties are firmly at the interface of biology, chemistry and physics. They have also become a major focus of modern computational methods.

Though the OEC and CO systems utilise quite different metallic prosthetic groups, there are mechanistic and structural aspects and questions that are common – for example, the four-step redox chemistry, the avoidance of ROS, the involvement of radical amino acids and the roles of protons and their transfer pathways. In fact, similar techniques are being applied to both systems; yet, they are rarely discussed comparatively. The format of this Harden meeting is designed to bring together such expertise and to promote exchange of concepts and technological developments.


Peter Rich (University College London, United Kingdom)
Gary Brudvig (Yale University, U.S.A.)
Fraser MacMillan (University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
Amandine Maréchal (University College London, United Kingdom)