That model is similar to how Acaryochloris marina actually operates in the South Pacific, specifically Australias Great Barrier Reef. Discovered just 11 years ago, the cyanobacterium lives in a symbiotic relationship with a sponge-like marine animal popularly called a sea squirt. The Acaryochloris marina lives beneath the sea squirt, which is a marine animal that lives attached to rocks just below the surface of the water. The cyanobacterium absorbs red edge light through the tissues of the sea squirt.
The genome, said Blankenship, is fat and happy. Acaryochloris marina lies down there using far red light that no one else can use. The organism has never been under very strong selection pressure to maintain a modest genome size. Its in kind of a sweet spot. Living in this environment is what allowed it to have such dramatic genome expansion.
Touchman said that once the gene that causes the late-step chemical transformation is found and inserted successfully into other plants or organisms, that it could potentially represent a five percent increase in available light for organisms to use.
We now have the complete genetic information of a novel organism that makes this type of pigment that no other organism does, he said. We dont yet know what every gene does, but this presents a fertile area for future studies. When we find the chlorophyll-d enzyme and then look into transferring it into other organisms, well be working to extend the range of potentially useful radiation from our Sun.
|Contact: Skip Derra|
Arizona State University