Proteorhodopsins: An Array of Physiological Roles?

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Jun;6(6):488-94. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1893. Epub 2008 May 13.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / physiology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Ecosystem
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Marine Biology
  • Models, Biological
  • Photobiology
  • Rhodopsin / genetics
  • Rhodopsin / physiology*
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial


  • Rhodopsins, Microbial
  • proteorhodopsin
  • Rhodopsin