Bacteria Share Light Spectrum with Plant Leaves | The Institute for Creation Research

Bacteria Share Light Spectrum with Plant Leaves

Plant leaves convert light into chemical energy for use in cells. Their biochemistry specifically absorbs the blue and red areas of the visible light spectrum. Now researchers have discovered that light-harvesting bacteria living on the surfaces of leaves gather energy from the green part of the spectrum, meaning that they cooperate rather than compete with plants. How did this perfectly balanced energy-sharing system come about?

Knowing that light-harvesting microbes live in aquatic environments, the researchers tested the hypothesis that similar bacteria live on leaves. They were right. And the light that the microbes gather was "compatible with the plant's photosynthesis," resulting in "a significant ecological advantage to microbes inhabiting this environment."1 In other words, bacteria take full advantage of all the green light that plants don't use.

In a study published online in Environmental Microbiology, the research team screened genetic material from the surfaces of different leaves harvested from an oasis near the Dead Sea. They found genetic codes for specific types of rhodopsins, which are molecules that capture light. Some enable sight in vertebrate eyes, but many of the rhodopsins found on leaf surfaces were part of light-gathering apparatuses used by bacteria as tiny energy generators called "light-driven proton pumps."1

The researchers found that the bacteria absorb the most light at exactly the same point where plants absorb no light. This way, more plant growth cooperatively provides more living space and fuel for the bacteria.

Charles Darwin proposed that natural selection developed all living systems through a "struggle for life."2 He imagined that competition between creatures built new biological structures to make them more fit to survive. But the specific biochemicals of these plants and bacteria enable them to cooperate without competing.3

Not only does the sharing of ecosystem resources between these species—as between plants and animals—indicate design,4 but the ingenious machinery required to capture and convert light into useful cellular energy points to an Engineer of surpassing brilliance.5

This was emphasized by yet another observation. The researchers found that the bacteria use some of their rhodopsins as light sensors so they can most effectively use the energy available to them. "This suggests that microorganisms in the phyllosphere [leaf surfaces] are intensively engaged in light sensing, to accommodate the effects of fluctuations in light quality, intensity and UV radiation at the leaf surface," according to the study authors.1

Both the tiny interlocking parts of biochemical energy machines and the interlocking purposes of totally different co-existing organisms show that life was designed by a divine Genius.

References

  1. Atamna-Ismaeel, N. et al. Microbial rhodopsins on leaf surfaces of terrestrial plants. Environmental Microbiology. Published online before print September 1, 2011.
  2. Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
  3. Mackay, J. Leaves and Microbes Share the Light. Evidence News. Creation Research. Posted on evidenceweb.net November 16, 2011, accessed November 29, 2011.
  4. Demick, D. 2000. The Unselfish Green Gene. Acts & Facts. 29 (7). 
  5. Swindell, R. 2002. Shining Light on the Evolution of Photosynthesis. Journal of Creation (formerly TJ). 17 (3): 74-84.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on December 6, 2011.

The Latest
NEWS
Human Genome 20th Anniversary—Junk DNA Hits the Trash
The first rough drafts of the human genome were reported in 2001 (one in the private sector and one in the public sector).1-2 Since then, after...

NEWS
Bacterial Proteins Use Quantum Mechanics
Researchers have found a dimmer switch inside a protein. It tunes the protein’s configuration to take advantage of quantum mechanics during photosynthesis....

NEWS
Dr. Bill Cooper, ICR’s Adjunct Professor, Now in Glory
Earlier last month on March the 9th, Dr. William R. Cooper, ICR’s Master Faculty (known to ICR-SOBA’s faculty as “Dr. Bill” since...

NEWS
Inside April 2021 Acts & Facts
How will ICR expand biblical creation education this year? How do fossilized fish and land creatures confirm Genesis history? Does recent research support...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Bees
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

ACTS & FACTS
Pleasure in Our Purpose
Eric Liddell was one of the most famous athletes of the 20th century and perhaps the greatest that Scotland ever produced. An international rugby player,...

APOLOGETICS
Beware Sinkholes and Other Failing Foundations
The sudden falling of some Christian schools can be compared to tiankengs, the geological term used for sinkholes that are at least 300 feet deep.1,2...

ACTS & FACTS
The Painted Desert: Fossils in Flooded Mud Flats
Brian Thomas, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D. The Painted Desert stretches across 120 miles of northern Arizona. Its sedimentary rocks show bright...

ACTS & FACTS
Does Recent Research Support Human Evolution?
In 1997, the Institute for Creation Research ran an Acts & Facts article on the lack of compelling evidence regarding our supposed evolution from...

ACTS & FACTS
Building a Perfectly Optimal Flying Machine
For thousands of years, people have dreamed of flying because they witnessed birds and knew it was possible. Inspired by a study of birds, the Wright...