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New Species Fills Billion-Year Gap in Evolution of Cyanobacteria

Researchers have isolated a new species of #cyanobacteria from a tropical hornwort plant found in Panama.

The discovery opens a new window to further illuminate the dawn of oxygenic photosynthesis.

The newly-discovered cyanobacteria species belongs to the Gloeobacteria group, which is extremely rare.

Scientifically named Anthocerotibacter panamensis, it diverged from the closest known Gloeobacter species over 1.4 billion years ago.

“Prior to this discovery, only two species of Gloeobacteria had been isolated,” said Dr. Fay-Wei Li, a researcher in the Boyce Thompson Institute and the Plant Biology Section at Cornell University.

“There is also a third group of uncultured species from the Arctic and Antarctic regions, but no one knows how many species are in that group.”

Gloeobacteria diverged from the more commonly studied Phycobacteria about 2 billion years ago.

The two groups have many differences, and Anthocerotibacter panamensis shares some traits with each.

Similar to other Gloeobacteria, the new species lacks thylakoids — the membrane-bound compartments that are the site of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis in Phycobacteria and plants.

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