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J Bacteriol. Apr 1997; 179(8): 2524–2528.
PMCID: PMC178999

Calcium is required for swimming by the nonflagellated cyanobacterium Synechococcus strain WH8113.


The marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus strain WH8113 swims in the absence of any recognizable organelles of locomotion. We have found that calcium is required for this motility. Cells deprived of calcium stopped swimming, while addition of calcium completely restored motility. No other divalent ions tested could replace calcium. Terbium, a lanthanide ion, blocked motility even when calcium was present at 10(5)-fold-higher concentrations, presumably by occupying calcium binding sites. Calcium chelators, EGTA or EDTA, blocked motility, even when calcium was present at 25-fold-higher concentrations, presumably by acting as calcium ionophores. Finally, motility was blocked by verapamil and nitrendipine, molecules known to block voltage-gated calcium channels of eukaryotic cells by an allosteric mechanism. These results suggest that a calcium potential is involved in the mechanism of motility.

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Selected References

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