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
COVID-19
Puppies and Pandemics
Doom and gloom fill our newsfeeds. Seemingly every hour, more grim headlines emerge. The United Nations now says that the coronavirus crisis is the "gravest...

COVID-19
RNA Virus Genome Decay Confirms Creation
Popular opinions hold that viruses can evolve into increasingly harmful versions of themselves. But science shows just the opposite. RNA viruses like influenza,...

NEWS
High-Speed Bird Communication Is Complex
High-speed creature communication has been making the news recently. There was underwater research on deep-sea squid,1 and now bird communication....

NEWS
Are Plastivores the Best Solution to Our Plastic Problem?
Since the first entirely synthetic plastic was made in 1907,1 the plastic industry has grown exponentially. While it is difficult to estimate...

COVID-19
Citizenship on Earth and in Heaven
As the number of those infected with COVID-19 grows dramatically with each passing hour, governments tighten their grip, trying desperately to slow the...

NEWS
Do You Really Have a Jaguar?
It’s not right to bluff about something you don’t have.1 Yet some government bureaucrats tried to gain control of over 100,000 acres...

NEWS
Earthquake Jolts Idaho
March went out with a jolt in central Idaho. March 31 saw a magnitude 6.5 earthquake strike about 45 miles west of the town of Challis at about 6:52 pm...

COVID-19
Enjoying God’s Universe While Isolated, on a Budget
Around three thousand years, King David wrote, When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,...

NEWS
Earthquakes Still Active in Utah
On March 18, 2020, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Salt Lake City area. Specifically, it hit underneath the town of Magna, Utah. Since that time,...

COVID-19
When Travel is Restricted, Be Honest and Trust God
Travel restrictions (imposed under federal and state disaster laws) are common this month, and they are likely to continue for some time. Many communities...