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Morphological Studies of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG under Polyhydroxyalkanoate Accumulating Conditions

Author(s): Yew, S. P. | Jau, M. H. | Yong, K. H. | Abed, R. M. M. | Sudesh, K.

Journal: Malaysian Journal of Microbiology
ISSN 1823-8262

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 48;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) | Synechocystis strain UNIWG | Transmission electron microscopy | Intracellular granules | Pilus

Some cyanobacteria are capable of producing polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), among which is the unicellular Synechocystis sp. Here, we report the identification and preliminary characterization of a newly isolated strain of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG that is capable of accumulating unusually high number of PHA granules. This cyanobacterium was isolated from oil-contaminated brackish water sample from Wadi Gaza, Palestine. Surprisingly, Nile Blue A staining of PHA-accumulating cells failed to reveal the accumulated PHA granules. Ultrastructural analysis of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG cells grown under nitrogen limiting conditions revealed the presence of up to 17 electron-transparent granules in the cell cytoplasm. Gas chromatography analysis further revealed that these cells contain up to 14 wt% poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) of the cell dry weight. Ultrastructural analysis also revealed that Synechocystis sp. UNIWG cells from the growth phase were covered with a dense layer of pilus like structures. However, these pilus-like structures were not observed in cells from the PHA-accumulation phase. The possible roles of these pilus-like structures and PHA accumulation for the survival of this cyanobacterium is discussed here.
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