Photobiology of Bacteria

Abstract

The field of photobiology is concerned with the interactions between light and living matter. For Bacteria this interaction serves three recognisable physiological functions: provision of energy, protection against excess radiation and signalling (for motility and gene expression). The chemical structure of the primary light-absorbing components in biology (the chromophores of photoactive proteins) is surprisingly simple: tetrapyrroles, polyenes and derivatised aromats are the most abundant ones. The same is true for the photochemistry that is catalysed by these chromophores: this is limited to light-induced exciton- or electron-transfer and photoisomerization.

The apoproteins surrounding the chromophores provide them with the required specificity to function in various aspects of photosynthesis, photorepair, photoprotection and photosignalling. Particularly in photosynthesis several of these processes have been resolved in great detail, for others at best only a physiological description can be given.

In this contribution we discuss selected examples from various parts of the field of photobiology of Bacteria. Most examples have been taken from the purple bacteria and the cyanobacteria, with special emphasis on recently characterised signalling photoreceptors inEctothiorhodospira halophila and inFremyella diplosiphon.

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Hellingwerf, K.J., Crielaard, W., Hoff, W.D. et al. Photobiology of Bacteria. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 65, 331–347 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00872217

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Key words

  • photoactive proteins
  • photoreceptors
  • chromophores
  • energy transduction
  • light signalling
  • phototaxis
  • gene expression