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Photoecology of the Antarctic cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307 brought to light through community analysis, comparative genomics and in vitro photophysiology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5279-5293
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number24
Early online date22 Nov 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Oct 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2018
DatePublished (current) - 31 Dec 2018


Cyanobacteria are important photoautotrophs in extreme environments such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Terrestrial Antarctic cyanobacteria experience constant darkness during the winter and constant light during the summer which influences the ability of these organisms to fix carbon over the course of an annual cycle. Here, we present a unique approach combining community structure, genomic and photophysiological analyses to understand adaptation to Antarctic light regimes in the cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307. We show that Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307 belongs to a clade of cyanobacteria that inhabits near-surface environments in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Genomic analyses reveal that, unlike close relatives, Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307 lacks the genes necessary for production of the pigment phycoerythrin and is incapable of complimentary chromatic acclimation, while containing several genes responsible for known photoprotective pigments. Photophysiology experiments confirmed Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307 to be tolerant of short-term exposure to high levels of photosynthetically active radiation, while sustained exposure reduced its capacity for photoprotection. As such, Leptolyngbya sp. BC1307 likely exploits low-light microenvironments within cyanobacterial mats in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

    Research areas

  • Antarctica, cyanobacteria, genomics, photoecology, photophysiology

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Wiley at DOI: 10.1111/mec.14. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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    Licence: CC BY


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