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Characterization of a newly isolated freshwater Eustigmatophyte alga capable of utilizing far-red light as its sole light source

Abstract

Oxygenic phototrophs typically utilize visible light (400–700 nm) to drive photosynthesis. However, a large fraction of the energy in sunlight is contained in the far-red region, which encompasses light beyond 700 nm. In nature, certain niche environments contain high levels of this far-red light due to filtering by other phototrophs, and in these environments, organisms with photosynthetic antenna systems adapted to absorbing far-red light are able to thrive. We used selective far-red light conditions to isolate such organisms in environmental samples. One cultured organism, the Eustigmatophyte alga Forest Park Isolate 5 (FP5), is able to absorb far-red light using a chlorophyll (Chl) a-containing antenna complex, and is able to grow under solely far-red light. Here we characterize the antenna system from this organism, which is able to shift the absorption of Chl a to >705 nm.

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Acknowledgements

Funding for this work was from the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC). PARC is a Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by Grant #DE-SC 0001035. Benjamin Wolf was supported by the William H. Danforth Plant Science Fellowship. Confocal microscopy was performed by Zuzana Kocsisova (Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis). We also acknowledge Jeremy D. King (Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis) for his contributions to the original sampling protocols and helpful discussions and Gregory S. Orf (Department of Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis) for instruction on fluorimetry.

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Correspondence to Robert E. Blankenship.

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Wolf, B.M., Niedzwiedzki, D.M., Magdaong, N.C.M. et al. Characterization of a newly isolated freshwater Eustigmatophyte alga capable of utilizing far-red light as its sole light source. Photosynth Res 135, 177–189 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11120-017-0401-z

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Keywords

  • Light harvesting complex
  • Stramenopila
  • Eustigmatophyte
  • Far-red light
  • Antenna