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Comparative structure of the gas-vacuoles of blue-green algae

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An investigation was made of 5 species of blue-green algae reported to contain gas-vacuoles. All organisms were grown and harvested under standard conditions. Gas-vacuoles were characterised as reddish structures which are destroyed by applying pressure. Using a simple direct preparation technique gascylinders were observed with the transmission electron microscope in gas-vacuolate cells. Gas-vacuoles were present in the strains of Anabaena flos-aquae, Gloeotrichia echinulata and Oscillatoria agardhii studied and absent from Microcystis aeruginosa and Nostoc linckia. The reddish, refractile central area of N. linckia and M. aeruginosa cells was tentatively identified as nucleoplasm. Gas-vacuoles are collections of gas-cylinders 70 mμ wide, which in A. flos-aquae and G. echinulata are clearly bounded by photosynthetic lamellae and associated with α-granules. The presence of bounding photosynthetic lamellae in these species is suggested as a causal factor of the unusual optical properties of their gas-vacuoles. The range of lengths of gas-cylinders in G. echinulata and O. agardhii is from 100 mμ to 500 mμ and in A. flos-aquae it is from 100 mμ to 1300 mμ. The percentage of cell volume occupied by gas-vacuoles was estimated by direct measurement. In A. flos-aquae and G. echinulata it was 22%. In O. agardhii gas-cylinders were not clearly associated with photosynthetic lamellae and α-granules and occupied 39% of cell volume. Gascylinder membranes showed reasonable preservation in KMnO4 and excellent preservation in OsO4. The widths of membranes after treatment with these two fixatives was 3 mμ and 2 mμ respectively.

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Smith, R.V., Peat, A. Comparative structure of the gas-vacuoles of blue-green algae. Archiv. Mikrobiol. 57, 111–122 (1967).

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  • Transmission Electron Microscope
  • Optical Property
  • Standard Condition
  • Cell Volume
  • Causal Factor