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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Multiplication of antenna genes as a major adaptation to low light in a marine prokaryote.

Two ecotypes of the prokaryote Prochlorococcus adapted to distinct light niches in the ocean have been described recently. These ecotypes are characterized by their different (divinyl-) chlorophyll (Chl) a to Chl b ratios and 16S rRNA gene signatures, as well as by their significantly distinct irradiance optima for growth and photosynthesis [Moore, L. R., Rocap, G. & Chisholm, S. W. (1998) Nature (London) 393, 464-467]. However, the molecular basis of their physiological differences remained, so far, unexplained. In this paper, we show that the low-light-adapted Prochlorococcus strain SS120 possesses a gene family of seven transcribed genes encoding different Chl a/b-binding proteins (Pcbs). In contrast, Prochlorococcus sp. MED4, a high-light-adapted ecotype, possesses a single pcb gene. The presence of multiple antenna genes in another low-light ecotype (NATL2a), but not in another high-light ecotype (TAK9803-2), is demonstrated. Thus, the multiplication of pcb genes appears as a key factor in the capacity of deep Prochlorococcus populations to survive at extremely low photon fluxes.[1]


  1. Multiplication of antenna genes as a major adaptation to low light in a marine prokaryote. Garczarek, L., Hess, W.R., Holtzendorff, J., van der Staay, G.W., Partensky, F. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2000) [Pubmed]
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