, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 639–650 | Cite as

Robust photosystem I activity by Cyanothece sp. (Cyanobacteria) and its role in prolonged bloom persistence in lake St Lucia, South Africa

  • Schalk J. du Plooy
  • Akash Anandraj
  • Sarah White
  • Renzo Perissinotto
  • Derek R. du Preez
Original Paper


Worldwide, cyanobacterial blooms are becoming more frequent, exacerbated by eutrophication, anthropogenic effects, and global climate change. Environmental factors play a direct role in photosynthesis of cyanobacteria and subsequent cellular changes, growth, and bloom dynamics. This study investigated the photosynthetic functioning of a persistent bloom-forming (18 months) cyanobacterium, Cyanothece sp., isolated from Lake St Lucia, South Africa. DUAL-PAM fluorometric methods were used to observe physiological responses in Cyanothece sp. photosystems I and II. Results show that photosystem I activity was maintained under all environmental conditions tested, while photosystem II activity was not observed at all. Out of the environmental factors tested (temperature, salinity, and nitrogen presence), only temperature significantly influenced photosystem I activity. In particular, high temperature (40 °C) facilitated faster electron transport rates, while effects of salinity and nitrogen were variable. Cyanothece sp. has shown to sustain bloom status for long periods largely because of the essential role of photosystem I activity during highly dynamic and even extreme (e.g., salinities higher than 200) environmental conditions. This ensures the continual supply of cellular energy (e.g. ATP) to important processes such as nitrogen assimilation, which is essential for protein synthesis, cell growth and, therefore, bloom maintenance.


PAM fluorescence Photosystem I Electron transport rate Cyanothece sp. Lake St Lucia Bloom persistence 



This work is based on the research supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material are that of the author(s) and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard. The study was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF, Pretoria), and the South Africa–Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD, Durban).


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DST/NRF Research Chair in Shallow Water EcosystemsNelson Mandela UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa
  2. 2.Center for Algal BiotechnologyMangosuthu University of TechnologyDurbanSouth Africa
  3. 3.Botany DepartmentNelson Mandela UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa

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