Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Specific bleaching of phycobiliproteins from cyanobacteria and red algae at high temperature in vivo

  • 204 Accesses

  • 24 Citations


Exposure of blue-green or red algal cells to temperatures exceeding 60–65°C for several minutes resulted in bleaching of all phycobilin absorption in the visible range, with virtually no alteration in chlorophyll or carotenoid absorption. Difference spectra of non-bleached vs bleached cells appeared identical to absorption spectra of purified phycobilisomes isolated from the same cell culture in high phosphate medium. All phycobilin chromophores were bleached at approximately the same rate during heating. There were no changes in apparent molecular weights or relative amounts of the phycobilisome apoproteins during chromophore bleaching. Phycobilisomes in cell extracts from Anacystis nidulans resisted bleaching when suspended in medium of high phosphate concentration, but were bleached at 60–65°C within a few minutes when placed in diluted medium. The results indicate that phycobilisomes in vivo are stabilized by a mechanism other than high osmotic and ionic strength. This represents a rapid and quantitative method to characterize the phycobiliprotein content of cyanobacteria and red algae in vivo.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.











medium, 0.2 M sucrose, 15 mM MgCl2, 0.75 M Na/KPO4, pH 7.8


  1. Arciero DM, Dallas JL, Glazer AN (1988) In vitro attachment of bilins to apophycocyanin II. Determination of the structure of tryptic bilin peptides derived from the phycocyanobilin adduct. J Biol Chem 263:18350–18357

  2. Becker DW, Brand JJ (1985) Anacystis nidulans demonstrates a Photosystem II cation requirement satisfied only by Ca2+ or Na+. Plant Physiol 79:552–558

  3. Brand JJ (1977) Spectral changes in Anacystis nidulans induced by chilling. Plant Physiol 59:970–973

  4. Cohen-Bazire G, Bryant DA (1982) Phycobilisomes: composition and structure. In: Carr NG, Whitton BA (eds) The biology of cyanobacteria. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 143–190

  5. Gantt E (1980) Structure and function of phycobilisomes: light-harvesting pigment complexes in red and blue-green algae. Int Rev Cystol 66:45–80

  6. Gantt E, Lipschultz CA, Grabowski J, Zimmerman BK (1979) Phycobilisomes from blue-green and red algae. Isolation criteria and dissociation characteristics. Plant Physiol 63:615–620

  7. Glazer AN (1985) Light harvesting by phycobilisomes. Ann Rev Biophys Chem 14:47–77

  8. Glazer AN (1987) Phycobilisomes: assembly and attachment. In: Fay P, Van Baalen C (eds) The cyanobacteria. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 69–94

  9. Glazer AN (1989) Light guides: Directional energy transfer in a photosynthetic antenna. J Biol Chem 264:1–4

  10. Grossman A, Brand JJ (1983) A rapid procedure for the isolation of intact phycobilisomes. Carnegie Institution Washington, Yearbook 82:116–119

  11. Jones LW, Myers J (1965) Pigment variations in Anacystis nidulans induced by light of selected wavelengths. J Phycol 1:6–13

  12. Katoh T (1988) Phycobilisome stability. In: Packer L, Glazer AN (eds) Methods in Enzymology, vol 167. Academic Press, New York, pp 313–318

  13. Kratz WA, Myers J (1955) Nutrition and growth of several blue-green algae. Am J Bot 42:282–287

  14. Laemmli UK (1970) Cleavage of structural proteins during the assemply of the head of bacteriophage T4. Nature 227:680–685

  15. Lundell DJ, Glazer AN (1983) Molecular architecture of a light-harvesting antenna. Core substructure in Synechococcus 6301 phycobilisomes: two new allophycocyanin and allophycocyanin B complexes. J Biol Chem 258:902–908

  16. MacKinney G (1941) Absorption of light by chlorophyll solutions. J Biol Chem 140:315–322

  17. Myers J, Graham J, Wang RT (1978) On spectral control of pigmentation in Anacystis nidulans (Cyanophyceae). J Phycol 14:513–518

  18. Rippka R, Deruelles J, Waterbury JB, Herdman M, Stanier RY (1979) Generic assignments, strain histories and properties of pure cultures of cyanobacteria. J Gen Microbiol 111:1–61

  19. Rosinski J, Hainfeld JF, Rigbi M, Siegelman HW (1981) Phycobilisome ultrastructure and chromatic adaption in Fremyella diplosiphon. Ann Bot 47:1–12

  20. Shibata K (1958) Spectrophotometry of intact biological materials. J Biochem (Tokyo) 45:599–623

  21. Starr RC, Zeikus JA (1987) UTEX — the culture collection of algae at the University of Texas at Austin. J Phycol 23 [Sept Suppl]: 1–47

  22. Tandeau de Marsac N, Houmard J (1988) Complementary chromatic adaptation: physiological conditions and action spectra. In: Packer L, Glazer AN (eds) Methods in Enzymology, vol 167. Academic Press, New York, pp 318–328

  23. Yamaoka T, Satoh K, Katoh S (1978) Photosynthetic activities of a thermophilic blue-green alga. Plant Cell Physiol 19:943–954

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Jerry J. Brand.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zhao, J., Brand, J.J. Specific bleaching of phycobiliproteins from cyanobacteria and red algae at high temperature in vivo. Arch. Microbiol. 152, 447–452 (1989).

Download citation

Key words

  • Algal heating damage
  • Anacystis nidulans
  • Cyanobacterial pigments
  • Phycobilin bleaching
  • Phycobilisomes