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Summary

The Gulf of Aqaba, extending north to the Red Sea, is an oligotrophic basin with typical open ocean gyre characteristics. Here we report on the existence of diverse microbial rhodopsins in the Gulf of Aqaba, based on 454-pyrosequencing-generated metagenome and metatranscriptome data sets, obtained from the microbial fraction smaller than 1.6 μm. Bacterial SAR11, SAR86 and archaeal proteorhodopsins as well as viral-like rhodopsins were detected on the DNA level. On the RNA level, only SAR11 and SAR86 proteorhodopsin transcripts were detected. Our results add to the growing evidence that microbial rhodopsins are a diverse, abundant and widespread protein family.