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Photosynth Res. 2003;78(2):93-117.

Chlorobium tepidum: insights into the structure, physiology, and metabolism of a green sulfur bacterium derived from the complete genome sequence.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, USA.


Green sulfur bacteria are obligate, anaerobic photolithoautotrophs that synthesize unique bacteriochlorophylls (BChls) and a unique light-harvesting antenna structure, the chlorosome. One organism, Chlorobium tepidum, has emerged as a model for this group of bacteria primarily due to its relative ease of cultivation and natural transformability. This review focuses on insights into the physiology and biochemistry of the green sulfur bacteria that have been derived from the recently completed analysis of the 2.15-Mb genome of Chl. tepidum. About 40 mutants of Chl. tepidum have been generated within the last 3 years, most of which have been made based on analyses of the genome. This has allowed a nearly complete elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways for the carotenoids and BChls in Chl. tepidum, which include several novel enzymes specific for BChl c biosynthesis. Facilitating these analyses, both BChl c and carotenoid biosynthesis can be completely eliminated in Chl. tepidum. Based particularly on analyses of mutants lacking chlorosome proteins and BChl c, progress has also been made in understanding the structure and biogenesis of chlorosomes. In silico analyses of the presence and absence of genes encoding components involved in electron transfer reactions and carbon assimilation have additionally revealed some of the potential physiological capabilities, limitations, and peculiarities of Chl. tepidum. Surprisingly, some structural components and biosynthetic pathways associated with photosynthesis and energy metabolism in Chl. tepidum are more similar to those in cyanobacteria and plants than to those in other groups of photosynthetic bacteria.

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