Niche adaptation and genome expansion in the chlorophyll d-producing cyanobacterium Acaryochloris marina

Wesley D. Swingley, Min Chen, Patricia C. Cheung, Amber L. Conrad, Liza C. Dejesa, Jicheng Hao, Barbara M. Honchak, Lauren E. Karbach, Ahmet Kurdoglu, Surobhi Lahiri, Stephen D. Mastrian, Hideaki Miyashita, Lawrence Page, Pushpa Ramakrishna, Soichirou Satoh, W. Matthew Sattley, Yuichiro Shimada, Heather L. Taylor, Tatsuya Tomo, Tohru TsuchiyaZi T. Wang, Jason Raymond, Mamoru Mimuro, Robert E. Blankenship, Jeffrey W. Touchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Acaryochloris marina is a unique cyanobacterium that is able to produce chlorophyll d as its primary photosynthetic pigment and thus efficiently use far-red light for photosynthesis. Acaryochloris species have been isolated from marine environments in association with other oxygenic phototrophs, which may have driven the niche-filling introduction of chlorophyll d. To investigate these unique adaptations, we have sequenced the complete genome of A. marina. The DNA content of A. marina is composed of 8.3 million base pairs, which is among the largest bacterial genomes sequenced thus far. This large array of genomic data is distributed into nine single-copy plasmids that code for >25% of the putative ORFs. Heavy duplication of genes related to DNA repair and recombination (primarily recA) and transposable elements could account for genetic mobility and genome expansion. We discuss points of interest for the biosynthesis of the unusual pigments chlorophyll d and α-carotene and genes responsible for previously studied phycobilin aggregates. Our analysis also reveals that A. marina carries a unique complement of genes for these phycobiliproteins in relation to those coding for antenna proteins related to those in Prochlorococcus species. The global replacement of major photosynthetic pigments appears to have incurred only minimal specializations in reaction center proteins to accommodate these alternate pigments. These features clearly show that the genus Acaryochloris is a fitting candidate for understanding genome expansion, gene acquisition, ecological adaptation, and photosystem modification in the cyanobacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2005-2010
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 12 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative microbial genomics
  • Evolution
  • Oxygenic phototrophs
  • Photosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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