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Nature. 2000 Sep 14;407(6801):177-9.

Bacterial photosynthesis in surface waters of the open ocean.

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Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8521, USA.


The oxidation of the global ocean by cyanobacterial oxygenic photosynthesis, about 2,100 Myr ago, is presumed to have limited anoxygenic bacterial photosynthesis to oceanic regions that are both anoxic and illuminated. The discovery of oxygen-requiring photosynthetic bacteria about 20 years ago changed this notion, indicating that anoxygenic bacterial photosynthesis could persist under oxidizing conditions. However, the distribution of aerobic photosynthetic bacteria in the world oceans, their photosynthetic competence and their relationship to oxygenic photoautotrophs on global scales are unknown. Here we report the first biophysical evidence demonstrating that aerobic bacterial photosynthesis is widespread in tropical surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean and in temperate coastal waters of the northwestern Atlantic. Our results indicate that these organisms account for 2-5% of the photosynthetic electron transport in the upper ocean.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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