The morphology (mainly prosthecae length), ultrastructure, and antenna pigment composition of the green sulfur bacterium Prosthecochloris aestuarii changed when grown under different light intensities. At light intensities of 0.5 and 5 micromol quanta m(-2) s(-1), the cells had a star-like morphology. Prosthecae, the characteristic appendages of the genus Prosthecochloris, were 232 nm and 194 nm long, respectively. In contrast, when grown at 100 micromol quanta m(-2) s(-1), these appendages were shorter (98 nm) and the cells appeared more rod-shaped. Transmission electron microscopy revealed a significant decrease in the cell perimeter to area ratio and in the number of chlorosomes per linear microm of membrane as light intensity increased. In addition to these morphological and ultrastructural responses, Prosthecochloris aestuarii exhibited changes in its pigment composition as a function of light regime. Lower specific pigment content and synthesis rates were found in cultures grown at light intensities above 5 micromol quanta m(-2) s(-1). A blue shift in the bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) c Q(y) absorption maximum of up to 17.5 nm was observed under saturating light conditions (100 micromol quanta m(-2) s(-1)). This displacement was accompanied by changes in the composition of BChl c homologs and by a very low carotenoid content. The morphological, ultrastructural and functional changes exhibited by Prosthecochloris aestuarii revealed the strong light-response capacity of this bacterium to both high and low photon-flux densities.