Genomics of the proteorhodopsin-containing marine flavobacterium Dokdonia sp. strain MED134

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Dec;77(24):8676-86. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06152-11. Epub 2011 Oct 14.


Proteorhodopsin phototrophy is expected to have considerable impact on the ecology and biogeochemical roles of marine bacteria. However, the genetic features contributing to the success of proteorhodopsin-containing bacteria remain largely unknown. We investigated the genome of Dokdonia sp. strain MED134 (Bacteroidetes) for features potentially explaining its ability to grow better in light than darkness. MED134 has a relatively high number of peptidases, suggesting that amino acids are the main carbon and nitrogen sources. In addition, MED134 shares with other environmental genomes a reduction in gene copies at the expense of important ones, like membrane transporters, which might be compensated by the presence of the proteorhodopsin gene. The genome analyses suggest Dokdonia sp. MED134 is able to respond to light at least partly due to the presence of a strong flavobacterial consensus promoter sequence for the proteorhodopsin gene. Moreover, Dokdonia sp. MED134 has a complete set of anaplerotic enzymes likely to play a role in the adaptation of the carbon anabolism to the different sources of energy it can use, including light or various organic matter compounds. In addition to promoting growth, proteorhodopsin phototrophy could provide energy for the degradation of complex or recalcitrant organic matter, survival during periods of low nutrients, or uptake of amino acids and peptides at low concentrations. Our analysis suggests that the ability to harness light potentially makes MED134 less dependent on the amount and quality of organic matter or other nutrients. The genomic features reported here may well be among the keys to a successful photoheterotrophic lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Flavobacteriaceae / genetics*
  • Flavobacteriaceae / growth & development*
  • Flavobacteriaceae / metabolism
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Light
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism
  • Phototrophic Processes*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism*
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial
  • proteorhodopsin
  • Carbon
  • Rhodopsin