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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.


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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