Editor's Summary

16 February 2006

The genes of place

Proteorhodopsin is very useful for marine microbes in the ocean's 'photic' zone. This protein converts light into cellular energy, in a process that stops short of photosynthesis but is sufficient to give an organism a competitive edge in well-lit surface waters. In fact proteorhodopsin seems to be more a reflection of this unique environment than of the organisms in which it is found. DNA screening in waters collected off Hawaii suggests that the proteorhodopsin gene is shared by members of the Archaea and Bacteria, two disparate microbial domains of life that co-exist in the photic zone, via lateral gene transfer.

LetterProteorhodopsin lateral gene transfer between marine planktonic Bacteria and Archaea

Niels-Ulrik Frigaard, Asuncion Martinez, Tracy J. Mincer and Edward F. DeLong


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