Ever since the discovery of the role of bacteriophytochrome (BphP) in inducing carotenoid synthesis in Deinococcus radiodurans in response to light the role of BphPs in other non-photosynthetic bacteria is not clear yet. Azospirillum brasilense, a non-photosynthetic rhizobacterium, harbours a pair of BphPs out of which AbBphP1 is a homolog of AtBphP1 of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. By overexpression, purification, biochemical and spectral characterization we have shown that AbBphP1 is a photochromic bacteriophytochrome. Phenotypic study of the ΔAbBphP1 mutant showed that it is required for the survival of A. brasilense on minimal medium under red light. The mutant also showed reduced chemotaxis towards dicarboxylates and increased sensitivity to the photooxidative stress. Unlike D. radiodurans, AbBphP1 was not involved in controlling carotenoid synthesis. Proteome analysis of the ΔAbBphP1 indicated that AbBphP1 is involved in inducing a cellular response that enables A. brasilense in regenerating proteins that might be damaged due to photodynamic stress.
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