Brief Communications

Nature 424, 741 (14 August 2003) | doi:10.1038/424741a

Marine ecosystems: Bacterial photosynthesis genes in a virus

Nicholas H. Mann1, Annabel Cook1, Andrew Millard1, Shaun Bailey1 & Martha Clokie1

Cyanobacteria contribute to the overall photosynthetic production of oxygen in the oceans, but they are susceptible to infection by viruses and also to photo-inhibition when sunlight is too intense. Here we show that the genomic sequence of one such virus, a bacteriophage known as S-PM2, encodes the D1 and D2 proteins that are key components of one of the photosynthetic reaction centres (photosystem II, PSII), which are crucial sites of damage in photo-inhibition. The presence of this virus, and others like it, in the ocean may ensure that photo-inhibition is prevented in infected cells, allowing photosynthesis to continue and therefore provide the energy needed by the virus for its replication.

  1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

Correspondence to: Nicholas H. Mann1 Email: n.h.mann@warwick.ac.uk