Light action spectra of N2 fixation by heterocystous cyanobacteria from the Baltic Sea

M.J. Staal, L.J. Stal, S. te Lintel Hekkert, F.J.M. Harren

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


    An on-line, laser photo-acoustic, trace gas detection system in combination with a stepper motor-controlled monochromator was used to record semicontinuous light action spectra of nitrogenase activity in heterocystous cyanobacteria. Action spectra were made of cultures of Nodularia spumigena Mertens ex Bornet & Flahault, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Ralfs ex Bornet & Flahault, and Anabaena sp. and from field samples of a cyanobacterial bloom in the Baltic Sea. Nitrogenase activity was stimulated by monochromatic light coinciding the red and blue peaks of chl a, the phycobiliproteins phycocyanin (allophycocyanin) and phycoerythrin, and several carotenoids. Because nitrogenase is confined to the heterocyst, it was concluded that all photopigments must have been present in these cells, were involved in light harvesting and photosynthesis, and supplied the energy for N2 fixation. The species investigated showed marked differences in their nitrogenase action spectra, which might be related to their specific niches and to their success in cyanobacterial blooms. Moreover, light action spectra of nitrogenase activity shifted during the day, probably as the result of changes in the phycobiliprotein content of the heterocyst relative to chl a. Action spectra of nitrogenase and changes in pigment composition are essential for the understanding of the competitive abilities of species and for the estimation of N2 fixation by a bloom of heterocystous cyanobacteria
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)668-677
    JournalJournal of Phycology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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