Occurrence of far-red light photoacclimation (FaRLiP) in diverse cyanobacteria

Fei Gan, Gaozhong Shen, Donald A. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Cyanobacteria have evolved a number of acclimation strategies to sense and respond to changing nutrient and light conditions. Leptolyngbya sp. JSC-1 was recently shown to photoacclimate to far-red light by extensively remodeling its photosystem (PS) I, PS II and phycobilisome complexes, thereby gaining the ability to grow in far-red light. A 21-gene photosynthetic gene cluster (rfpA/B/C, apcA2/B2/D2/E2/D3, psbA3/D3/C2/B2/ H2/A4, psaA2/B2/L2/I2/F2/J2) that is specifically expressed in far-red light encodes the core subunits of the three major photosynthetic complexes. The growth responses to far-red light were studied here for five additional cyanobacterial strains, each of which has a gene cluster similar to that in Leptolyngbya sp. JSC-1. After acclimation all five strains could grow continuously in far-red light. Under these growth conditions each strain synthesizes chlorophylls d, f and a after photoacclimation, and each strain produces modified forms of PS I, PS II (and phycobiliproteins) that absorb light between 700 and 800 nm. We conclude that these photosynthetic gene clusters are diagnostic of the capacity to photoacclimate to and grow in far-red light. Given the diversity of terrestrial environments from which these cyanobacteria were isolated, it is likely that FaRLiP plays an important role in optimizing photosynthesis in terrestrial environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-24
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 29 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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