Proteorhodopsin - A new path for biological utilization of light energy in the sea
- 海洋环境－已发表论文 
The breakthrough of environmental genomics of marine microbes has revealed the existence of eubacterial rhodopsin in the sea, named proteorhodopsin (PR), which can take light to produce bio-energy for cell metabolism. Gene and protein sequence analysis and laser flash-induced photolysis experiments have validated the function of PR as light-driven proton-pump. During the pumping process, light energy is transformed into chemical gradient potential across plasma inner-membrane, the potential energy is then used to synthesize ATR The finding of PR actually brings to light a novel pathway of sunlight utilization existing in heterotrophic eubacteria in contrast to the well-known chlorophyll-dependent photosynthesis in the sea. Since the group of PR-bearing bacteria is one of the numerically richest microorganisms on the Earth, accounting for 13% of the total in sea surface water, and with averaged cellular PR molecules of 2.5x10(4), PR-bearing bacteria are a key component not to be ignored in energy metabolism and carbon cycling in the sea. Based on the understanding of current literature and our own investigation on PR in the China seas which indicated a ubiquitous presence and high diversity of PR in all the marine environments, we propose a conceptual model of energy flow and carbon cycling driven by both pigment-dependent and -independent biological utilization of light in the ocean.