Solar-panel and parasol strategies shape the proteorhodopsin distribution pattern in marine Flavobacteriia

Yohei Kumagai, Susumu Yoshizawa, Yu Nakajima, Mai Watanabe, Tsukasa Fukunaga, Yoshitoshi Ogura, Tetsuya Hayashi, Kenshiro Oshima, Masahira Hattori, Masahiko Ikeuchi, Kazuhiro Kogure, Edward F. Delong, Wataru Iwasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Proteorhodopsin (PR) is a light-driven proton pump that is found in diverse bacteria and archaea species, and is widespread in marine microbial ecosystems. To date, many studies have suggested the advantage of PR for microorganisms in sunlit environments. The ecophysiological significance of PR is still not fully understood however, including the drivers of PR gene gain, retention, and loss in different marine microbial species. To explore this question we sequenced 21 marine Flavobacteriia genomes of polyphyletic origin, which encompassed both PR-possessing as well as PR-lacking strains. Here, we show that the possession or alternatively the lack of PR genes reflects one of two fundamental adaptive strategies in marine bacteria. Specifically, while PR-possessing bacteria utilize light energy ("solar-panel strategy"), PR-lacking bacteria exclusively possess UV-screening pigment synthesis genes to avoid UV damage and would adapt to microaerobic environment ("parasol strategy"), which also helps explain why PR-possessing bacteria have smaller genomes than those of PR-lacking bacteria. Collectively, our results highlight the different strategies of dealing with light, DNA repair, and oxygen availability that relate to the presence or absence of PR phototrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1343
Number of pages15
JournalISME Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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