Wednesday, March 02, 2005

278: Ecology and evolution of a novel chlorophyll

Ecology: A niche for cyanobacteria containing chlorophyll d:

The cyanobacterium known as Acaryochloris marina is a unique phototroph that uses chlorophyll d as its principal light-harvesting pigment instead of chlorophyll a, the form commonly found in plants, algae and other cyanobacteria; this means that it depends on far-red light for photosynthesis. Here we demonstrate photosynthetic activity in Acaryochloris-like phototrophs that live underneath minute coral-reef invertebrates (didemnid ascidians) in a shaded niche enriched in near-infrared light. This discovery clarifies how these cyanobacteria are able to thrive as free-living organisms in their natural habitat.
A unique form of chlorophyll that's adapted to a particular life style. Evolution!