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Multiple evolutionary origins of prochlorophytes, the chlorophyllb-containing prokaryotes

Nature volume 355, pages 265267 (16 January 1992) | Download Citation

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Abstract

PROCHLOROPHYTES are prokaryotes that carry out oxygenic photosynthesis using chlorophylls a and b, but lack phycobili-proteins as light-harvesting pigments1. These characteristics distinguish them from cyanobacteria, which contain phycobiliproteins, but no chlorophyll b. Three prochlorophyte genera have been described: Prochloron1–3,Prochlorothrix4andProchlorococcus5,6. The prochlorophytes share their pigment characteristics with green plant and euglenoid chloroplasts, which has led to a debate on whether these chloroplasts may have arisen from an endosymbiotic prochlorophyte rather than a cyanobacterium2,7. Molecular sequence data, including those presented here based on a fragment of the rpoCl gene encoding a subunit of DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, indicate that the known prochlorophyte lineages do not include the direct ancestor of chloroplasts8–11. We also show that the prochlorophytes are a highly diverged polyphyletic group. Thus the use of chlorophyll b as a light-harvesting pigment has developed independently several times in evolution. Similar conclusions have been reached in parallel studies using 16S ribosomal RNA sequences12.

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  1. Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, 920 E. 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

    • B. Palenik
    •  & R. Haselkorn

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https://doi.org/10.1038/355265a0

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