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Environ Microbiol Rep. 2012 Apr;4(2):209-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2011.00323.x. Epub 2012 Jan 16.

Bacterial anoxygenic photosynthesis on plant leaf surfaces.

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Faculty of Biology, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel Bioinformatics Knowledge Unit, Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center for Life Sciences and Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel Faculty of Science, Institute of Molecular Life Sciences and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland Institute of Microbiology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland Institute of Microbiology, Department of Phototrophic Microorganisms - ALGATECH, 379 81 Třeboň, Czech Republic.


The aerial surface of plants, the phyllosphere, is colonized by numerous bacteria displaying diverse metabolic properties that enable their survival in this specific habitat. Recently, we reported on the presence of microbial rhodopsin harbouring bacteria on the top of leaf surfaces. Here, we report on the presence of additional bacterial populations capable of harvesting light as a means of supplementing their metabolic requirements. An analysis of six phyllosphere metagenomes revealed the presence of a diverse community of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, including the previously reported methylobacteria, as well as other known and unknown phototrophs. The presence of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria was also confirmed in situ by infrared epifluorescence microscopy. The microscopic enumeration correlated with estimates based on metagenomic analyses, confirming both the presence and high abundance of these microorganisms in the phyllosphere. Our data suggest that the phyllosphere contains a phylogenetically diverse assemblage of phototrophic species, including some yet undescribed bacterial clades that appear to be phyllosphere-unique.

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