, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 1-13

Filamentous cyanophytes containing phycourobilin and in symbiosis with sponges and an ascidian of coral reefs

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A study was made of the ultrastructure and pigment composition of filamentous cyanophytes living in symbiosis with several sponges and a colonial didemnid ascidian collected from the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, between 1983 and 1986. The sponges were Dysidea herbacea Keller and several other encrusting sponges which have not been identified; the ascidian was Trididemnum miniatum Kott (1977). The cyanophyte Oscillatoria spongeliae (Shultz) Hauck was identified as the symbiont of several of the sponges, including D. herbacea. Two other unidentified Oscillatoria species were found in a bristly papillate sponge and in T. miniatum. Chlorophyll a, alone, was present in all the symbionts with the exception of T. miniatum, which contained the cosymbiont Prochloron and where chlorophyll b was also present. Two phycoerythrins were isolated by chromatography and chromatofocusing. Both resembled C-phycoerythrin, but one of the two carried the chromophore phycourobilin as well as phycoerythrobilin possibly on both the α and β subunits, which had apparent molecular masses of 18 and 20 kdaltons. No γ subunit was present. Ultrastructurally, the three Oscillatoria species were distinguished by an unusual type of parallel, longitudinal, thylakoid organisation; the arrangement was different in detail in each species.

Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Sydney