Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 79–91 | Cite as

Regulation of photosynthesis during heterocyst differentiation in Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 investigated in vivo at single-cell level by chlorophyll fluorescence kinetic microscopy

  • Naila Ferimazova
  • Kristina Felcmanová
  • Eva Šetlíková
  • Hendrik Küpper
  • Iris Maldener
  • Günther Hauska
  • Barbora Šedivá
  • Ondřej PrášilEmail author
Regular Paper


Changes of photosynthetic activity in vivo of individual heterocysts and vegetative cells in the diazotrophic cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 during the course of diazotrophic acclimation were determined using fluorescence kinetic microscopy (FKM). Distinct phases of stress and acclimation following nitrogen step-down were observed. The first was a period of perception, in which the cells used their internally stored nitrogen without detectable loss of PS II activity or pigments. In the second, the stress phase of nitrogen limitation, the cell differentiation occurred and an abrupt decline of fluorescence yield was observed. This decline in fluorescence was not paralleled by a corresponding decline in photosynthetic pigment content and PS II activity. Both maximal quantum yield and sustained electron flow were not altered in vegetative cells, only in the forming heterocysts. The third, acclimation phase started first in the differentiating heterocysts with a recovery of PS II photochemical yields \(F_{\text{v}} /F_{\text{m}} ,\;F^{\prime}_{\text{v}} /F^{\prime}_{\text{m}}.\) Afterwards, the onset of nitrogenase activity was observed, followed by the restoration of antenna pigments in the vegetative cells, but not in the heterocysts. Surprisingly, mature heterocysts were found to have an intact PS II as judged by photochemical yields, but a strongly reduced PS II-associated antenna as judged by decreased F 0. The possible importance of the functional PS II in heterocysts is discussed. Also, the FKM approach allowed to follow in vivo and evaluate the heterogeneity in photosynthetic performance among individual vegetative cells as well as heterocysts in the course of diazotrophic acclimation. Some cells along the filament (so-called “superbright cells”) were observed to display transiently increased fluorescence yield, which apparently proceeded by apoptosis.


Acclimation to abiotic stress Heterocyst differentiation Nitrogen fixation Two-dimensional (imaging) measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics of individual cells Topography of photosynthetic performance at single-cell level 





Fluorescence kinetic microscope as defined by Küpper et al. (2000)


Minimal fluorescence yield of a dark adapted sample in non-actinic measuring light


Maximum fluorescence yield of a dark adapted sample


Steady state fluorescence under actinic irradiance, after the end of the induction transient


F m − F 0 = Variable fluorescence


Fluorescence yield at the peak of the induction curve after the onset of actinic light


Fluorescence yield


Nitrogen step-down


(F m − \(F^{\prime}_{\text{m}})\)/F m = Non-photochemical quenching






\(F^{\prime}_{\text{m}} -F^{\prime}_{\text{t}}\), i.e., the response of fluorescence yield to a saturating irradiation pulse in light acclimated state


\(F^{\prime}_{\text{m}} -F^{\prime}_{\text{t}}/F^{\prime}_{\text{m}}\) = Light-acclimated electron flow through PS II (Genty et al. 1989)



The authors would like to thank Vit’a Lukes for help with data analysis. Financial support was provided by the GACR grant 206/08/1683 and by the project Algatech (CZ.1.05/2.1.00/03.0110). HK would like to thank the “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes” for a fellowship during the initial part of this project.

Supplementary material

11120_2013_9897_MOESM1_ESM.docx (78 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 77 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naila Ferimazova
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristina Felcmanová
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eva Šetlíková
    • 1
  • Hendrik Küpper
    • 2
    • 3
  • Iris Maldener
    • 4
  • Günther Hauska
    • 5
  • Barbora Šedivá
    • 1
  • Ondřej Prášil
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Photosynthesis—Algatech, Institute of MicrobiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicTřeboňCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Fachbereich BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  4. 4.IMIT, Microbiology/Organismic Interactions, Department of BiologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  5. 5.Lehrstuhl für Zellbiologie und PflanzenphysiologieUniversität RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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