Bacterial anoxygenic photosynthesis on plant leaf surfaces

Authors

  • Nof Atamna-Ismaeel,

    1. Faculty of Biology, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
    2. Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Omri Finkel,

    1. Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Fabian Glaser,

    1. Bioinformatics Knowledge Unit, Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center for Life Sciences and Engineering, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
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  • Christian von Mering,

    1. Faculty of Science, Institute of Molecular Life Sciences and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
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  • Julia A. Vorholt,

    1. Institute of Microbiology, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
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  • Michal Koblížek,

    1. Institute of Microbiology, Department of Phototrophic Microorganisms – ALGATECH, 379 81 Třeboň, Czech Republic
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  • Shimshon Belkin,

    1. Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Oded Béjà

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Biology, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
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E-mail beja@tx.technion.ac.il; Tel. (+972) 4 829 3961; Fax (+972) 4 822 5153.

Summary

The aerial surface of plants, the phyllosphere, is colonized by numerous bacteria displaying diverse metabolic properties that enable their survival in this specific habitat. Recently, we reported on the presence of microbial rhodopsin harbouring bacteria on the top of leaf surfaces. Here, we report on the presence of additional bacterial populations capable of harvesting light as a means of supplementing their metabolic requirements. An analysis of six phyllosphere metagenomes revealed the presence of a diverse community of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, including the previously reported methylobacteria, as well as other known and unknown phototrophs. The presence of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria was also confirmed in situ by infrared epifluorescence microscopy. The microscopic enumeration correlated with estimates based on metagenomic analyses, confirming both the presence and high abundance of these microorganisms in the phyllosphere. Our data suggest that the phyllosphere contains a phylogenetically diverse assemblage of phototrophic species, including some yet undescribed bacterial clades that appear to be phyllosphere-unique.

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