• circadian rhythm;
  • cyanobacteria;
  • specific death rate;
  • specific growth rate

Circadian periodicity in cell division and death was investigated in the cyanobacterium Anabaena flos-aquae (Lyngb.) Bréb in a phosphorus (P)-limited, N2-fixing chemostat culture. When entrained under 12:12 h LD cycles, not only cell division but also cell death showed a clear circadian rhythm in this filamentous cyanobacterium. The rhythm persisted under continuous light and was temperature compensated. Circadian rhythm was clearly observed in the steady-state cell number and instantaneous growth rate, μ(t), which reached a maximum at about 2 h before sunset and a minimum at about 2 h before sunrise. The number of dead cells and the instantaneous death rate γ(t) also showed a circadian periodicity; the peak of γ(t) occurred approximately 8 h before that of μ(t). Therefore, cell growth and death in A. flos-aquae appear to be under the control of circadian clocks, and thus it seems that their death is programmed cell death.