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Scientists discover unique microbe in California's largest lake

sms are closely related species of Acaryochloris, but the other two live in the Pacific and must grow on or in an animal or plant to survive in nature," Wood says. "This new microbe opens up a whole new range of possible habitats where oxygen could be produced by photosynthesis using wavelengths of light that exist beyond the visible spectrum." The PNAS article is co-authored by Miller and Wood along with Sunny Augustine and Jeanne Selker of the University of Oregon and Tien Le Olson and Robert E. Blankenship of Arizona State University. Augustine, a postdoctoral associate in Wood's lab, worked with Selker, former director of the UO electron microscopy facility, to compare the cellular structure of the new organism with that of the symbiotic form of Acaryochloris. Blankenship and Olson compared its pigments with those of A. marina, one of the symbiotic species. "Chlorophyll d is a pigment that is intermediate between the chlorophylls found in the more primitive non-oxygen evolving photosynthetic bacteria and the chlorophylls found in oxygen evolving photosynthetic organisms. It may have an important place in the evolution of photosynthesis," says Blankenship, professor and chair of the ASU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Miller says another surprising discovery occurred when the scientists studied the DNA of the new organism. By analyzing sequence data for the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene, which encodes part of the cell's protein synthesis machinery, they demonstrated that chlorophyll d-producing blue-green algae (more technically known as cyanobacteria) have acquired a piece of DNA from a proteobacterium, a distant relative that last shared a common ancestor with cyanobacteria more than two billion years ago. The small subunit ribosomal RNA gene is widely used by scientists to infer the relationships among living organisms, in part because it is generally assumed that it is faithfully transmitted from parent to offspring. However, in the case of this
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Source:University of Oregon


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