Aerobic nitrogen fixation is confined to a subset of cells in the non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Symploca PCC 8002

Charlotta Fredriksson, Gillian Malin, Pirzada J. A. Siddiqui, Birgitta Bergman

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Symploca PCC 8002 Kutzing is a filamentous cyanobacterium that lacks the specialized cells, known as heterocysts, that protect nitrogenase from O2 in most aerobic N2-fixing cyanobacteria. Nevertheless, Symploca is able to carry out N2 fixation in the light under aerobic conditions. When cultures were grown under light/dark cycles, nitrogenase activity commenced and increased in the light phase and declined towards zero in the dark. Immunolocalization of dinitrogenase reductase in sectioned Symploca trichomes showed that the enzyme was present only in 9 % of the cells. These cells lacked any obvious mechanical protection against atmospheric O2 and their ultrastructural characteristics were similar to those of cells that did not contain any dinitrogenase reductase. The nitrogenase-containing cells possessed carboxysomes that were rich in ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and phycoerythrin, a light harvesting pigment of PS II. This indicates that these cells had a capacity for both N2 fixation and photosynthesis. The significance of the localization pattern for dinitrogenase reductase is discussed in the context of N2 fixation in Symploca PCC 8002.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-538
Number of pages8
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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