Incorporating light-absorbing molecules into bacterial membranes can allow bacteria to use solar energy to transform nitrogen gas into fertilizer!
Microbe of the episode:
Wheat dwarf virus
In this study, a light-absorbing molecule was inserted into the cell membrane of some of these bacteria, allowing them to use light energy directly to power the nitrogen converting enzymes. These "biohybrids" were able to produce convert significantly more nitrogen gas and produce additional bacterial biomass from it, showing promise for using such an approach for more sustainable microbial fertilizer production.