Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Transmission electron microscopy and immunocytological labeling were used to study the distribution and ontological occurrence of dinitrogenase reductase (Fe-protein) of nitrogenase in cyanobacterial symbionts within young leaves of the water-ferns Azolla filiculoides Lamarck, A. caroliniana Willdenow, and A. pinnata R. Brown. Rabbit anti-dinitrogenase reductase antisera and goat anti-rabbit-immunoglobulin G antibody conjugated to colloidal gold were used as probes. Western blot analyses showed that a polypeptide of approx. 36 kDa (kdalton) was recognized in the symbionts of all three Azolla species and that the polyclonal sera used were monospecific. In all symbionts, nitrogenase was immunologically recognizable within heterocysts. It was absent from vegetative cells, and also from the akinetes of the A. caroliniana and A. pinnata symbionts. The differentiation of vegetative cells into heterocysts in all three symbionts was initiated by formation of additional external cell-wall layers and narrowing of the neck followed by loss of glycogen, mild vesiculation of thylakoid membranes, and the appearance of polar nodules. No nitrogenase was detected at these early stages, but it appeared in the intermediate proheterocyst stage concomitantly with the formation of contorted membranes, and reached the strongest labeling in mature heterocysts, containing extensive tightly packed membranes. Nitrogenase was evenly distributed throughout heterocysts except at the polar regions, which contained honey-comb configurations and large polar nodules. With increased age of the A. caroliniana and A. pinnata symbionts, heterocysts became highly vesiculated, with a concomitant decrease in the amount of nitrogenase detected.
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