Gram-positive bacteria: possible photosynthetic ancestry

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Science  30 Nov 1984:
Vol. 229, Issue 4715, pp. 762-765
DOI: 10.1126/science.11539659


A 16S ribosomal RNA gene has been sequenced from Heliobacterium chlorum, the recently discovered photosynthetic bacterium that contains a novel form of chlorophyll. Comparisons with other 16S ribosomal RNA sequences show that the organism belongs to the Gram-positive bacteria (one of ten eubacterial "phyla")--more precisely to the so-called low G + C (G, guanine; C, cytosine) subdivision thereof. This brings to five the number of such phyla that contain photosynthetic species, the other four being the purple bacteria and relatives, the green sulfur bacteria, the green nonsulfur bacteria, and the cyanobacteria. The finding suggests that Gram-positive bacteria may be of photosynthetic ancestry, and it strengthens the case for a common photosynthetic ancestry for all eubacteria.