Reference Work Entry

The Prokaryotes

pp 1053-1073

The Cyanobacteria—Isolation, Purification and Identification

  • John B. Waterbury

The oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria comprise two groups, the cyanobacteria and the prochlorophytes, that are distinguished by their photosynthetic pigment composition. The cyanobacteria contain chlorophyll a and phycobiliproteins as their primary photosynthetic pigments (see Cyanobacteria—Ecology, Physiology and Molecular Genetics in this Volume) while the prochlorophytes contain chlorophylls a and b and lack phycobiliproteins (see The Genus Prochlorococcus in this Volume).

The cyanobacteria are morphologically and developmentally one of the most diverse groups of prokaryotes. They range from simple unicellular forms that reproduce by binary fission to complex filamentous forms that possess a variety of highly differentiated cell types. Some of the filamentous forms are capable of true branching, and some are even truly multicellular, as the result of cellular differentiation and functional specialization between vegetative cells and heterocysts, the sites of oxygenic photosynthesis an ...

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