Ploidy in cyanobacteria


Correspondence: Jörg Soppa, Institute for Molecular Biosciences, Biocentre, Goethe-University, Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, D-60438 Frankfurt, Germany. Tel.: +49 69 798 29564; fax: +49 69 798 29527; e-mail:


A recently developed real-time PCR method for the determination of genome copy numbers was optimized for the application to cyanobacteria. Three species were chosen to represent a fresh water species, a salt water species, and two strains of a widely used laboratory species. SynechococcusPCC 7942 and SynechococcusWH7803 were found to contain 3–4 genome copies per cell and are thus oligoploid, confirming earlier publications. In contrast, SynechocystisPCC 6803 is highly polyploid. The motile wild-type strain contains 218 genome copies in exponential phase and 58 genome copies in linear and in stationary growth phase. The GT wild-type strain contains 142 genome copies in exponential phase and 42 genome copies in linear and stationary growth phase. These are the highest numbers found for any cyanobacterial species. Notably these values are much higher than the value of 12 genome copies published for the ‘Kazusa’ strain more than 20 years ago. The results reveal that for SynechocystisPCC 6803 strain differences exist and that the ploidy level is highly growth phase-regulated. A compilation of the ploidy levels of all investigated cyanobacterial species gives an overview of the genome copy number distribution and shows that monoploid, oligoploid, and polyploid cyanobacteria exist.