Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 67–71 | Cite as

Nitrogenase activity in the non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Oscillatoria sp. grown under alternating light-dark cycles

  • Lucas J. Stal
  • Wolfgang E. Krumbein
Original Papers


The non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Oscillatoria sp. strain 23 fixes nitrogen under aerobic conditions. If nitrate-grown cultures were transferred to a medium free of combined nitrogen, nitrogenase was induced within about 1 day. The acetylene reduction showed a diurnal variation under conditions of continuous light. Maximum rates of acetylene reduction steadily increased during 8 successive days. When grown under alternating light-dark cycles, Oscillatoria sp. fixes nitrogen preferably in the dark period. For dark periods longer than 8 h, nitrogenase activity is only present during the dark period. For dark periods of 8 h and less, however, nitrogenase activity appears before the beginning of the dark period. This is most pronounced in cultures grown in a 20 h light – 4 h dark cycle. In that case, nitrogenase activity appears 3–4 h before the beginning of the dark period. According to the light-dark regime applied, nitrogenase activity was observed during 8–11 h. Oscillatoria sp. grown under 16 h light and 8 h dark cycle, also induced nitrogenase at the usual point of time, when suddenly transferred to conditions of continuous light. The activity appeared exactly at the point of time where the dark period used to begin. No nitrogenase activity was observed when chloramphenicol was added to the cultures 3 h before the onset of the dark period. This observation indicated that for each cycle, de novo nitrogenase synthesis is necessary.

Key words

Oscillatoria Cyanobacteria Nitrogen fixation Light-dark cycles 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas J. Stal
    • 1
  • Wolfgang E. Krumbein
    • 1
  1. 1.Geomicrobiology DivisionUniversity of OldenburgOldenburgFederal Republic of Germany

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