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Microbiology. 2004 May;150(Pt 5):1271-81.

Effects of high light on transcripts of stress-associated genes for the cyanobacteria Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Prochlorococcus MED4 and MIT9313.

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  • 1Station Biologique, UMR 7127, CNRS et Universit√© Pierre et Marie Curie, BP 74, F-29682 Roscoff cedex, France. mary@sb-roscoff.fr


Cyanobacteria constitute an ancient, diverse and ecologically important bacterial group. The responses of these organisms to light and nutrient conditions are finely controlled, enabling the cells to survive a range of environmental conditions. In particular, it is important to understand how cyanobacteria acclimate to the absorption of excess excitation energy and how stress-associated transcripts accumulate following transfer of cells from low- to high-intensity light. In this study, quantitative RT-PCR was used to monitor changes in levels of transcripts encoding chaperones and stress-associated proteases in three cyanobacterial strains that inhabit different ecological niches: the freshwater strain Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, the marine high-light-adapted strain Prochlorococcus MED4 and the marine low-light-adapted strain Prochlorococcus MIT9313. Levels of transcripts encoding stress-associated proteins were very sensitive to changes in light intensity in all of these organisms, although there were significant differences in the degree and kinetics of transcript accumulation. A specific set of genes that seemed to be associated with high-light adaptation (groEL/groES, dnaK2, dnaJ3, clpB1 and clpP1) could be targeted for more detailed studies in the future. Furthermore, the strongest responses were observed in Prochlorococcus MED4, a strain characteristic of the open ocean surface layer, where hsp genes could play a critical role in cell survival.

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