The relationship between intracellular pH, growth characteristics and calcium in the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 exposed to low pH


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Changes in various cell functions were examined during a shift of the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 to acidic external pH (pHex) in the presence and absence of added calcium. In the presence of 0–25 mM Ca (the standard Ca concentration of the growth medium), growth and O2 evolution were inhibited at pH values lower than 6. The cyanobacterium was unable to maintain a relatively constant internal pH (pHi) at pH 6 and below, which led to acidification of the cytoplasm. In the absence of Ca, the acidification found at acid pH values was even more pronounced. The elimination of Ca did not affect pHi at pHex of 6–5 and above. Increased acidification of the internal cell contents correlated well with a general impairment of growth in Ca-deficient cells exposed to external acid pH values. On the other hand, Ca enrichment of cells grown under acidic conditions resulted in a significant improvement of several physiological processes. The protein pattern of cell extracts of Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 was altered by acidity. The most significant modifications of the protein profiles induced at low pH were not evident in the presence of high concentrations of Ca. Increasing concentrations of Ca allowed Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 to perform better at lower pH.