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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Sep;69(9):5051-9.

Aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis in Roseobacter clade bacteria from diverse marine habitats.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, German Research Institute for Biotechnology, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany.


The marine Roseobacter clade comprises several genera of marine bacteria related to the uncultured SAR83 cluster, the second most abundant marine picoplankton lineage. Cultivated representatives of this clade are physiologically heterogeneous, and only some have the capability for aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis, a process of potentially great ecological importance in the world's oceans. In an attempt to correlate phylogeny with ecology, we investigated the diversity of Roseobacter clade strains from various marine habitats (water samples, biofilms, laminariae, diatoms, and dinoflagellate cultures) by using the 16S rRNA gene as a phylogenetic marker gene. The potential for aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis was determined on the genetic level by PCR amplification and sequencing of the pufLM genes of the bacterial photosynthesis reaction center and on the physiological level by detection of bacteriochlorophyll (Bchl) a. A collection of ca. 1,000 marine isolates was screened for members of the marine Roseobacter clade by 16S rRNA gene-directed multiplex PCR and sequencing. The 42 Roseobacter clade isolates found tended to form habitat-specific subclusters. The pufLM genes were detected in two groups of strains from dinoflagellate cultures but in none of the other Roseobacter clade isolates. Strains within the first group (the DFL-12 cluster) also synthesized Bchl a. Strains within the second group (the DFL-35 cluster) formed a new species of Roseovarius and did not produce Bchl a under the conditions investigated here, thus demonstrating the importance of genetic methods for screening of cultivation-dependent metabolic traits. The pufL genes of the dinoflagellate isolates were phylogenetically closely related to pufL genes from Betaproteobacteria, confirming similar previous observations which have been interpreted as indications of gene transfer events.

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