Key words Akinete
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Morphological and biochemical changes associated with synchronous germination of mature, aged and desiccated akinetes of two alkaliphilic cyanobacteria, Cyanospira rippkae and Cyanospira capsulata, are described. Akinetes of both strains proved to be highly resistant to desiccation, being able to germinate, in the presence of either N2 or nitrate as nitrogen source, with a germination frequency of more than 90% after seven years of storage in a dried state. The first cell division occurred after 8–10 h of incubation, thereafter the germlings of the two strains followed a different pattern of cell differentiation. Heterocysts were first noted, in a terminal position, at 16–18 h in three-celled germlings of C. capsulata and at 21–24 h in C. rippkae, when germlings were at least seven cells in length. Akinetes of both species possessed, on a per cell basis, almost identical amounts of all photosynthetic pigments but, under nitrogen fixing conditions, photosynthetic activity (oxygen evolution) was detected only after new proteins had been synthesized, before a functional heterocyst was developed and while total nitrogen remained constant. With energy provided by aerobic respiration, a wide range of intracellular amino acids characteristic of proteins was utilised to sustain the new protein synthesis. The end of this biosynthetic activity coincided with the timing of the first cell division. From this stage on, no changes in protein concentration occurred until mature heterocysts were developed. In the presence of nitrate, no significant changes in the major germination events were observed.
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