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Piecing together the cyanobacteria puzzle

rbon fixation. After a few hours of incubation, vegetative cells exhibited a large enrichment in carbon and nitrogen isotopes because of active carbon and nitrogen uptake and intercellular exchange. During photosynthesis, most of the newly fixed carbon was allocated to vegetative cells because they are rapidly dividing, while heterocysts require very little carbon because they are non-growing cells.

The NanoSIMS images showed that mature heterocysts are distinguishable from the vegetative cells based on their size, shape and intercellular distance.

The method also showed that newly fixed nitrogen levels are higher in vegetative cells than in mature heterocysts.

We were able to see on a cell by cell basis how newly fixed nitrogen is rapidly exported from the heterocysts to vegetative cells, keeping pace with the nitrogen demands of the growing and dividing vegetative cells, Weber said. Now we can take these results and apply them to poorly understood species.

USCs Kenneth Nealson predicts that NanoSIMS opens up a whole new field of study.

You can use this technology to look at things going on inside the cell, he said. This is going to change the way that we do a lot of microbiology.

The research appears in the latest issue of The International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) Journal.


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Contact: Anne Stark
stark8@llnl.gov
925-422-9799
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
10-Jul-2007


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