Halobacterium sp.


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The ocean may be blue, but the saltier bodies of water have a different a story.  Some salt marshes and lakes (the Dead Sea, Owens Lake, and the Great Salt Lake, to name a few) can be seen emitting a purplish-pink tint. Why are the waters running purple? A mysterious resident known as Halobacterium sp.
This free-living, unicellular microorganism flourishes in saturated salt solutions under intense solar radiation. Halobacterium sp., an archaeon, has a unique ability to survive under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.  
Under anaerobic conditions, when oxygen isn't available for ATP generation, the bacteria forms a purple membrane.  The main component of the purple membrane, Bacteriorhodopsin, keeps Halobactium sp.'s life cycle going in this time of famine by funtioning as an energy transducer.
Halobacteria has an ability to change its color as its environmental conditions change - as does this website: Pinkify!


Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) is a light-driven ion pump which converts light energy into electrochemistry energy. BR, the main component of Halobacterium's purple membrane, is a seven-helical transmembrane protein with a retinal co-factor.  In the presence of sunlight, BR moves protons out of the Halobacterium cell, creating a proton gradient.  This proton gradient, in turn, is used by ATP synthase, a second membrane protein, to generate chemical energy in the form of ATP.


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