Adaptive and acclimative responses of cyanobacteria to far-red light

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Cyanobacteria use three major photosynthetic complexes, photosystem (PS) I, PS II and phycobilisomes, to harvest and convert sunlight into chemical energy. Until recently, it was generally thought that cyanobacteria only used light between 400 nm and 700 nm to perform photosynthesis. However, the discovery of chlorophyll (Chl) d in Acaryochloris marina and Chl f in Halomicronema hongdechloris showed that some cyanobacteria could utilize far-red light. The synthesis of Chl f (and Chl d) is part of an extensive acclimation process, far-red light photoacclimation (FaRLiP), which occurs in many cyanobacteria. Organisms performing FaRLiP contain a conserved set of 17 genes encoding paralogous subunits of the three major photosynthetic complexes. Far-red light photoacclimation leads to substantial remodelling of the photosynthetic apparatus and other changes in cellular metabolism through extensive changes in transcription. Far-red light photoacclimation appears to be controlled by a red/far-red photoreceptor, RfpA, as well as two response regulators (RfpB and RfpC), one of which is a DNA-binding protein. The remodelled photosynthetic complexes, including novel phycobiliproteins, absorb light above 700 nm and enable cells to grow in far-red light. A much simpler acclimation response, low-light photoacclimation (LoLiP), occurs in some cyanobacteria that contain the apcD4-apcB3-isiX cluster, which allows cells to grow under low light conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3450-3465
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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