Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover New Oceanic Bacterial Photopigment That Converts Light Into Biochemical Energy

Date:
September 19, 2000
Source:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Summary:
Microbiologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) report in the 15 September 2000 issue of the journal Science their discovery of a novel light-absorbing pigment found in oceanic bacteria.

MOSS LANDING, California -- Microscopic bacteria in the world's oceans have only recently been detectable, but new studies are revealing surprising evidence of their importance.

Microbiologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) report in the 15 September 2000 issue of the journal Science their discovery of a novel light-absorbing pigment found in oceanic bacteria. The MBARI researchers describe how this new photopigment can generate cellular energy using light. Their discovery suggests that a whole new class of microorganisms is capable of harnessing light energy in the ocean's sunlit surface zone.

"We've uniquely applied new advances in genomic technology to our studies of oceanic microbes and it has lead us to unexpected results," said lead researcher Ed DeLong. "We now have the techniques to address some important ecological questions about the role of these microorganisms in the ocean."

Microbiologists who study oceanic picoplankton‹microscopic bacteria that are 0.2 to 2 micrometers in diameter‹face the challenge of studying microorganisms that cannot be readily grown in culture. Using new techniques, biologists have started to identify prominent groups of microbes in the ocean, allowing them to map their distribution and abundance. But the function of those microbes in their environment has remained unknown. DeLong and postdoctoral associate Oded Béjà have devised methods to dissect the genomes of the uncultivated microbes, allowing them to identify the functions of specific genes, and predict their ecological significance.

In this recent study, samples of oceanic bacteria were collected in Monterey Bay. The MBARI researchers isolated large genome fragments and, with colleagues at Molecular Dynamics (Sunnyvale, CA), produced the raw gene sequences from the picoplankton DNA. The sequences were assembled and analyzed at MBARI to reveal the encoded genes and their hypothetical function. The oceanic microbial genome sequence revealed a new rhodopsin-like pigment never before found in any bacterial species. (Rhodopsins are light-absorbing pigments, more familiarly associated with vision in the animal kingdom.) The bacterial sequence suggested that this new photopigment might serve as a type of light-driven ion pump, enabling the oceanic microbes to generate energy from sunlight.

MBARI researchers used recombinant DNA technology to express and test the function of the rhodopsin-like gene. As predicted, when exposed to light, the photopigment moved ions across the cell membrane, showing that it can generate energy by absorbing light.

DeLong and his colleagues are excited by the many implications of this research, especially the demonstrated effectiveness of using genomics for characterizing naturally-occurring microbes. Their research suggests that rhodopsin-like photopigments appear to be more taxonomically widespread than previously thought and reveals a new type of light-driven energy generation in an abundant oceanic microbial group. For nanotechnology development, this research has generated interest in the potential for new applications in the area of light-actuated molecular switches.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "Researchers Discover New Oceanic Bacterial Photopigment That Converts Light Into Biochemical Energy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000919080829.htm>.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. (2000, September 19). Researchers Discover New Oceanic Bacterial Photopigment That Converts Light Into Biochemical Energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000919080829.htm
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "Researchers Discover New Oceanic Bacterial Photopigment That Converts Light Into Biochemical Energy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000919080829.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) — A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Reuters - US Online Video (July 29, 2014) — Passengers stuck overnight on a whale watching boat return safely to Boston. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) — Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) — The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins