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J Biotechnol. 2012 Nov 30;162(1):148-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.04.009. Epub 2012 Apr 28.

On the dynamics and constraints of batch culture growth of the cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142.

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Global Change Research Centre-CzechGlobe, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Zámek 136, CZ-37333 Nové Hrady, Czech Republic.


The unicellular, nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142 is of a remarkable potential for production of third-generation biofuels. As the biotechnological potential of Cyanothece 51142 varies with the time of the day, we argue that it will, similarly, depend on the phase of the culture growth. Here, we study the batch culture dynamics to discover the dominant constraints in the individual growth phases and identify potential for inducing or delaying transitions between culture growth phases in Cyanothece 51142. We found that specific growth rate in the exponential phase of the culture is much less dependent on incident irradiance than the photosynthetic activity. We propose that surplus electrons that are released by water splitting are used in futile processes providing photoprotection additional to non-photochemical quenching. We confirm that the transition from exponential to linear phase is caused by a light limitation and the transition from linear to stationary phase by nitrogen limitation. We observe spontaneous diurnal metabolic oscillations in stationary phase culture that are synchronized over the entire culture without an external clue. We tentatively propose that the self-synchronization of the metabolic oscillations is due to a cell-to-cell communication of the cyanobacteria that is necessary for nitrogenase activity in nitrate depleted medium.

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