Virology

Portable Energy Supplements

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Science  21 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5785, pp. 274
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5785.274b

In light of the importance of photosystem II (PSII) for photosynthetic cyanobacteria, one might have thought, naïvely as it turns out, that tampering with PSII proteins would be either too hazardous or merely ineffectual. Instead, a bewildering genetic diversity exists, as revealed by Sullivan et al. from their identification and sequencing of psbA and psbD genes (which encode core PSII proteins) from 20 strains of the abundant cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus and from 33 cyanophage isolates—primarily the narrow-host-range podoviruses and the broad-host-range myoviruses. Phylogenetic analyses support a history of phage-to-host, host-to-phage, and phage-to-phage exchanges, in addition to intragenic recombination. Carrying a copy of psbA may be advantageous for a phage in supplementing the labile host PsbA protein; many of the broad-host-range cyanophages also carry psbD, which may expand their capabilities in augmenting host energy production. — GJC

PLoS Biol. 4, e234 (2006).

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