Leaves and microbes share the light, according to a report in Environmental Microbiology 13, 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02554.x published online 1 September 2011 and Science vol 333, p1551 16 September 2011.

The surface of leaves is a good habitat for micro-organisms and some of these collect light in the same way that plants do using a molecule named rhodopsin, rather than chlorophyll that the plants use. Plants absorb the red and blue parts of the visible light spectrum and reflect the green part. This is why plants are green.

To see if the leaf dwelling microbes were competing with the plants for the same part of the sunlight spectrum an international group of scientists led by Nof Atamna-Ismaeel of Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa studied rhodopsins of the microbes that live on five different plants and compared them with light harvesting microbes that live in the sea. They found the leaf dwelling microbes have rhodopsin with the right molecular structure to absorb green light while the marine microbes had rhodopsins that absorb blue light. This means the leaf dwelling microbes and the green leaves complement one another in their use of sunlight.

Editorial Comment: Now that’s clever! This is a cooperative system that enables both the plants and microbes, and, therefore the whole ecosystem, to efficiently harvest the whole spectrum of light, but without harming the plants or the microbes. Here is more evidence that living organisms are designed to live and function in cooperative ecosystems, not compete with one another in a Darwinian struggle for existence.

Furthermore, if plants absorbed the whole spectrum of light, they would be black or grey at best. Can you imagine a tossed lettuce salad in such a world? Even a soy sausage would look like something the dog had already eaten. Come on – it really is time to be truly thankful to the Creator who made the light and the plants and microbes that harvest it and feed the world, and they were made in such a communally helpful way to allow us to also enjoy the refreshing beauty of green plants at the same time. Read Genesis 1:1-31 and Genesis 2:5-9 for more detail.

Evidence News 16 November 2011

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