February 5, 2023

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science. The sun-catching bacteria were discovered by the two “traps”.

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A bacterium capable of capturing light energy through a “trap”, that is, through two distinct mechanisms, has been discovered in alpine lakes, not only through common photosynthesis, but also using a special proton pump.

They were identified by a group of researchers from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Austria’s Lake Gossenk├Âllesee and the results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Sciences of the United States (Pnas).

Unlike animals, bacteria can produce organic matter and generate energy for their functioning simply from sunlight. The most common method used by bacteria and plants is through photosynthesis, that is, a complex series of chemical reactions that can convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars, but some organisms have also evolved other, more or less complex, methods.

There are two distinct ways to generate energy from the sun

In general, microorganisms use only one of several methods, but analyzing samples taken from the Gosenkolesi alpine lake in Austria, Czech researchers discovered that some bacteria, Sphingomonas glacialisInstead, they are able to obtain energy from the sun by exploiting two different methods that are used according to environmental conditions.

When light and temperature levels are low i Sphingomonas glacialis They use photosynthesis, but when temperatures rise and light increases, they mainly exploit molecules called photosynthesis rhodopsin. It is a type of particle that, when struck by light, changes by expelling a proton outward.

This creates a kind of imbalance that is exploited for tuning ATPone of the most widely used molecules in nature to transport energy within cells.

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The presence of two different energy-producing mechanisms in the same organism is indeed rare and according to the researchers, this dual energy-producing strategy could be a result of evolutionary adaptation to specific environmental conditions found in alpine lakes.

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