Bacterial Variants and Tuning

Image: Graph and scanning electron micrograph of picoplankton from the open ocean. Scale bar, 1nm (background)

Caption: Ed Delong and his team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently discovered a new photosystem in ocean microorganisms. By creating a library of DNA from marine microorganisms, the group discovered that a photoprotein, a type of rhodopsin previously found only in Archaea, exists in bacteria as well. Furthermore, they showed that bacteria containing this energy-generating, light-absorbing pigment are almost ubiquitous in the world's oceans. Another remarkable feature: genetic variants of these bacteria have slightly different pigment molecules that seem "tuned" to absorb light of different wavelengths, matching the type of light penetrating to different depths.

Source: Ed DeLong, MBARI
Credit: Norm Pace and Ed DeLong
NSF-funded: YES
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