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Keywords:

  • Cyanobacteria;
  • electron microscopy;
  • Hoechst 33342;
  • Neisser staining

Abstract

Although most cyanobacterial cells contain prominent polyphosphate bodies in the central cytoplasmic area enclosed by the peripheral thylakoid membranes, their roles are not fully understood. Storing phosphate for nucleotide production might be one of their important roles in survival of the cells. As a step towards identifying a possible contribution of the polyphosphate bodies to DNA synthesis, the relationship between polyphosphate bodies and DNA throughout cell division cycle of Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 cells cultured under light/dark cycles was investigated with light and electron microscopy. During the dark period, the average size of polyphosphate bodies increased gradually without significant change in their number and distribution. However, during the light period, the number of polyphosphate bodies increased, while the size of each polyphosphate body decreased and cells elongated until the end of the light period, when most cells divided. The ratio of the content of polyphosphate bodies to cell length increased gradually during the dark period and decreased during the light period. Hoechst 33342-stained DNA appeared diffuse during the dark period, but in the light period it became condensed and eventually formed a wavy, rope-like structure prior to cell division. Close association between fibres containing DNA and polyphosphate bodies was demonstrated by TEM using DNA-specific staining and BrdU labelling. These regular coordinated changes of polyphosphate bodies and DNA shape during the cell division cycle, together with their intimate interaction, imply a role of polyphosphate bodies in supplying material for DNA.