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ISME J. 2018 Apr;12(4):1047-1060. doi: 10.1038/s41396-018-0074-4. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

Proteorhodopsin variability and distribution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

Author information

1
Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA.
2
Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Chiba, 277-8564, Japan.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan.
4
Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA. edelong@hawaii.edu.

Abstract

Proteorhodopsin is a light-activated retinal-containing proton pump found in many marine bacteria. These photoproteins are globally distributed in the ocean's photic zone and are capable of generating a proton motive force across the cell membrane. We investigated the phylogenetic diversity, distribution, and abundance of proteorhodopsin encoding genes in free-living bacterioplankton in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, leveraging a gene catalog derived from metagenomic samples from the ocean's surface to 1000 m depth. Proteorhodopsin genes were identified at all depths sampled, but were most abundant at depths shallower than 200 m. The majority of proteorhodopsin gene sequences (60.9%) belonged to members of the SAR11 lineage, with remaining sequences distributed among other diverse taxa. We observed variations in the conserved residues involved in ion pumping and spectral tuning, and biochemically confirmed four different proton pumping proteorhodopsin motifs, including one unique to deep-water SAR11. We also identified a new group of putative proteorhodopsins having unknown function. Our results reveal a broad organismal and unexpected depth distribution for different proteorhodopsin types, as well as substantial within-taxon variability. These data provide a framework for exploring the ecological relevance of proteorhodopsins and their spatiotemporal variation and function in heterotrophic bacteria in the open ocean.

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