, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 181-189

The structure of Gloeobacter violaceus and its phycobilisomes

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Abstract

The fine structure of the atypical cyanobacterium Gloeobacter violaceus has been studied on frozen-etched replicas and compared to that of a typical unicellular strain: Synechocystis 6701. The complementary fracture faces of G. violaceus cytoplasmic membrane contain particles less numerous and more heterogenous in size than either the cytoplasmic membrane or the thylakoid membranes of Synechocystis. The most frequently observed particles of the exoplasmic fracture (EF) face of the G. violaceus cytoplasmic membrane are 11 nm in diameter and occasionally form short alignments. This particle class is similar in appearance to the numerous, aligned EF particles of Synechocystis thylakoid membranes. In replicas of cross-fractured G. violaceus, a layer 50–70 nm thick, composed of rod-like elements, underlies the inner surface of the cytoplasmic membrane. The rods, 12–14 nm in diameter, are oriented perpendicularly to the cytoplasmic membrane and show a 6 nm repeat along their length.

Isolated phycobilisomes of G. violaceus appear, after fixation and negative staining, as bundles of 6 parallel rodshaped elements connected to an ill-defined basal structure. The bundles are 40–45 nm wide and 75–90 nm long. The rods are 10–12 nm in width; their length varies between 50 and 70 nm. These rods are morphologically similar to those observed at the periphery of hemidiscoidal phycobilisomes of other cyanobacteria, with a strong repeat at 6 nm intervals and a weaker one at 3 nm intervals along their length.

The calculated molar ratio of phycobiliproteins in isolated G. violaceus phycobilisomes corresponds to 1:3.9:2.9 for allophycocyanin, phycocyanin and phycoerythrin respectively. When excited at 500 nm, isolated phycobilisomes exhibit a major fluorescence emission band centered at 663 nm.