Photosynthetic organisms normally endeavor to optimize the efficiency of their light-harvesting apparatus. However, here we describe two bacterial isolates belonging to the genera Allochromatium and Thiocapsa that demonstrate a novel adaptation by optimizing their external growth conditions at the expense of photosynthetic efficiency. In the South Andros Black Hole, Bahamas, a dense l-m thick layer of these anoxygenic purple sulfur bacteria is present at a depth of 17.8 m. In this layer the water temperature increases sharply to 36 degrees C as a consequence of the low-energy transfer efficiency of their carotenoids (ca. 30%). These include spirilloxanthin, and related polyene molecules and a novel chiral carotenoid identified as spirilloxanthin-2-ol, not previously reported in purple bacteria. To our knowledge, this study presents the first evidence of such a bacterial mass significantly increasing the ambient water temperature. The transduction of light to heat energy to excess heat may provide these anoxygenic phototropic bacteria with a competitive advantage over non-thermotolerant species, which would account for their predominance within the microbial layer.
- Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
- Light Signal Transduction
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
- Spectrometry, Fluorescence