Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis

After Big Bang

Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, scientists have discovered. The discovery lays the foundation for further research aimed at improving plant growth, harvesting energy from the sun, and understanding dense blooms like those now occurring on Lake Erie and other lakes worldwide.

This is a close view of a benthic microbial mat community at the LaDuke hot spring in Gardiner, Montana near Yellowstone National Park, showing cyanobacteria and other chlorophototrophic bacteria. Credit: Donald A. Bryant lab, Penn State University This is a close view of a benthic microbial mat community at the LaDuke hot spring in Gardiner, Montana near Yellowstone National Park, showing cyanobacteria and other chlorophototrophic bacteria.
Credit: Donald A. Bryant lab, Penn State University

“We have shown that some cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, can grow in far-red wavelengths of light, a range not seen well by most humans,” said Donald A. Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. “Most cyanobacteria can’t ‘see’ this light either. But we have found a…

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