, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 76-80

Temporal separation of nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in the filamentous, non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Oscillatoria sp.

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When growing in laternating light-dark cycles, nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction) in the filamentous, non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Oscillatoria sp. strain 23 (Oldenburg) is predominantly present during the dark period. Dark respiration followed the same pattern as nitrogenase. Maximum activities of nitrogenase and respiration appeared at the same time and were 3.6 μmol C2H4 and 1.4 mg O2 mg Chl a -1·h-1, respectively. Cultures, adapted to light-dark cycles, but transferred to continuous light, retained their reciprocal rhythm of oxygenic photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Moreover, even in the light, oxygen uptake was observed at the same rate as in the dark. Oxygen uptake and nitrogenase activity coincided. However, nitrogenase activity in the light was 6 times as high (22 μmol C2H4 mg Chl a -1·h-1) as compared to the dark activity. Although some overlap was observed in which both oxygen evolution and nitrogenase activity occurred simultaneously, it was concluded that in Oscillatoria nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis are separated temporary. If present, light covered the energy demand of nitrogenase and respiration very probably fulfilled a protective function.