Metagenomic analyses have revealed widespread and diverse retinal-binding rhodopsin proteins (named proteorhodopsins) among numerous marine bacteria and archaea, which has challenged the notion that solar energy can only enter marine ecosystems by chlorophyll-based photosynthesis. Most marine proteorhodopsins share structural and functional similarities with archaeal bacteriorhodopsins, which generate proton motive force via light-activated proton pumping, thereby ultimately powering ATP production. This suggests an energetic role for proteorhodopsins. However, results from a growing number of investigations do not readily fit this model, which indicates that proteorhodopsins could have a range of physiological functions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Immunology and Microbiology