Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 363–368 | Cite as

Photo-induction of electrical current with the cyanobacteriumAgmenellum quadruplicatum PR-6

  • Willem F. Coetzee
  • S. Edward StevensJr


We investigated the possibility of eliciting a measurable photoinduced electrical current from the cyanobacteriumAgmenellum quadruplicatum PR-6 (Synechococcus PCC 7002). This proved virtually impossible for intact cells. However, treated PR-6 cells fixed in an alginate matrix on tin oxide as the active electrode in a three electrode electrochemical cell gave rise to a significant light response. Cell treatments involving toluene, chloroform or detergents were effective and gave current responses up to 250 nA. Drying the cyanobacterial matrix increased the current yield at least fifty-fold. These effects were observed for light wavelengths > 650 nm and were not influenced by inhibitors or enhancers of photosynthesis nor by sustained argon bubbling of the electrolyte.

French pressure cell lysates facilitated distinction between two light induced current components. Lysates prepared without CaCl2 gave current induction kinetics that were indistinguishable from those on chemically treated cells i.e. slowly rising to a stable maximum in 10–15 min. When CaCl2 was present during lysis, a rapidly induced (<1 s) unstable component was observed. Toluenization of PR-6 either prior to or post lysing abolished the CaCl2 related effect. CaCl2 had no effect on current induction in strain PR-6008, which lacked the α and β subunits of phycocyanin and exhibited slow current induction kinetics.

The observed effects are interpreted as responses of components of the photosystems of PR-6 rather than in terms of an integrated photosynthetic process.

Key words

Agmenellum quadruplicatum Synechococcus 7002 cyanobacteria photo-induced current electrochemical cell alignate thin film 


chl a

chlorophyll a


saturated calomel electrode


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Buzby JS, Porter RD, Stevens Jr SE (1983) Plasmid transformation inAgmenellum quadruplicatum, strain PR-6: construction of biphasic plasmids and characterization of their transformation properties. J. Bact. 154: 1446–1450.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Buzby JS, Porter RD, Stevens Jr SE (1985) Expression of theEscherichia coli lacZ gene on a plasmid vector in a cyanobacterium. Science 230: 805–807.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. de Lorimier R, Bryant DA, Porter RD, Liu W-Y, Jay E, Stevens Jr SE (1984) Genes for the α and β subunits of phycocyanin. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 81: 7946–7950.Google Scholar
  4. de Lorimier R, Bryant DA, Stevens Jr SE (1990) Genetic analysis of a 9 kDa phycocyanin-associated linker polypeptide. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1019: 29–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. de Lorimier R, Guglielmi G, Bryant DA, Stevens Jr SE (1987) Functional expression of plastid allophycocyanin genes in a cyanobacterium. J. Bact. 169: 1830–1835.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Essich E, Stevens Jr SE, Porter RD (1990) Chromosomal transformation in the cyanobacteriumAgmenellum quadruplicatum. J. Bact. 172: 1916–1922.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Haenel W, Heupel A, Hengstermann D (1978) Investigations on a galvanic cell driven by photosynthetic electron transport. Z. Naturforsch. Teil C 33: 392–401.Google Scholar
  8. Ho KK, Krogmann DW (1982) Photosynthesis In Carr NG, Whitton BA (eds), The Biology of Cyanobacteria, pp. 191–214. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.Google Scholar
  9. Janzen AF, Bolton JR (1979) Photochemical electron transfer in monolayer assemblies: 1. spectroscopic study of radicals produced in chlorophyll a/acceptors systems. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 101: 6337–6341.Google Scholar
  10. Janzen AF, Seibert M (1980) Photoelectrochemical conversion using reaction-centre electrodes. Nature 286: 584–585.Google Scholar
  11. Kapp R, Stevens Jr SE, Fox JL (1975) A survey of available nitrogen sources for the growth of the blue-green alga,Agmenellum quadruplicatum. Arch. Microbiol. 104: 135–138.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kipe-Nolt JA, Stevens Jr SE (1979) Effect of levulinic acid on pigment biosynthesis inAgmenellum quadrupicatum. J. Bact. 137: 146–152.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Miyasaka TT, Watanabe A, Fujishima A, Honda K (1978) Light energy conversion with chlorophyll monolayer electrodes.In vitro electrochemical simulation of photosynthetic primary processes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 100: 6657–6665.Google Scholar
  14. Miyasaka TT, Watanabe A, Fujishima A, Honda K (1979) Highly efficient quantum conversion at chlorophyll a-lecithin mixed monolayer coated electrodes. Nature 227: 638–640.Google Scholar
  15. Murphy RC, Stevens Jr SE (1992) Cloning and expression of thecryIVD gene ofBacillus thuringiensis subsp.israelensis in the cyanobacteriumAgmenellum quadruplicatum PR-6 and its resulting larvicidal activity. Appl. environ. Microbiol. 58: 1650–1655.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Ochiai H, Shibata H, Fujishima A, Honda K (1979) Photocurrent by immobilized chloroplast film electrode. Agric. Biol. Chem. 43: 881–883.Google Scholar
  17. Ochiai H, Shibata H, Sawa Y, Katoh T (1980) ‘Living electrode’ as a long-lived photoconverter for biophotolysis of water. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA) 77: 2442–2444.Google Scholar
  18. Ochiai H, Shibata H, Sawa Y, Katoh T (1982) Properties of the chloroplast film electrode immobilized on an SnO2-coated glass plate. Photochem. Photobiol. 35: 149–155.Google Scholar
  19. Ochiai H, Shibata H, Sawa Y, Shoga M, Ochta S (1983) Properties of semiconductor electrodes coated with living films of cyanobacteria. Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 8: 289–303.Google Scholar
  20. Packenham NK, Packenham C, Mueller P, Tiede DM, Dutton PL (1980) Reconstitution of photochemically active reaction centers in planar phospholipid membranes. FEBS Lett 110: 101–106.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Seibert M, Janzen AF, Kendall-Tobias MW (1982) Light-induced electron transport across semiconductor electrode/reaction-center film/electrolyte interfaces. Photochem. Photobiol. 35: 193–200.Google Scholar
  22. Seibert M, Kendall-Tobias MW (1982) Photoelectrochemical properties of electrodes coated with photoactive-membrane vesicles isolated from photosynthetic bacteria. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 681: 504–511.Google Scholar
  23. Stevens Jr SE, Van Baalen C (1970) Growth characteristics of selected mutants of a coccoid blue-green alga. Arch. Microbiol. 72: 1–8.Google Scholar
  24. Stevens Jr SE, Van Baalen C (1973) Characteristics of nitrate reduction in a mutant of the blue-green algaAgmenellum quadruplicatum Plant Physiol. 51: 350–356.Google Scholar
  25. Stevens Jr SE, Van Baalen C (1974) Control of nitrate reductase in a blue-green alga: the effects of inhibitors, blue-light, and ammonia. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 161: 146–152.Google Scholar
  26. Stevens Jr SE, Porter RD (1980) Transformation inAgmenellum quadruplicatum. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 77: 6052–6056.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willem F. Coetzee
    • 1
  • S. Edward StevensJr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations