Unusual ultrastructural features in three strains of Cyanothece (cyanobacteria)

Arch Microbiol. 2000 Feb;173(2):154-63. doi: 10.1007/s002039900126.


Three unicellular cyanobacterial strains (PCC 7425, PCC 8303, PCC 9308) assigned to the genus Cyanothece Komárek 1976, which showed an unusually high content of light refractile inclusions when viewed by phase-contrast microscopy, were characterized by confocal laser scanning microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. All strains had concentric cortical thylakoids and a compact central nucleoid. Frequently, the two innermost thylakoid membranes protruded to form circular enclosures containing cytoplasm or electron-transparent granules, or both. The largest granules were partially immersed in the nucleoid region, but they remained attached to the inner cortical thylakoids by a single narrow connection. The pattern of binary cell division in strain PCC 7425 was different than that in strains PCC 8303 and PCC 9308. In the former, all cell wall layers invaginated simultaneously, whereas in the latter the invagination of the outer membrane was delayed compared to that of the cytoplasmic membrane and the peptidoglycan layer. Thus, prior to completion of cell division, the new daughter cells of strains PCC 8303 and PCC 9308 were transiently connected by a thick septum, which was not observed in strain PCC 7425. Nucleoid partitioning coincided with initiation of cell division in all three strains and was unlike that reported in other bacteria and in archaea, in which separation of the nucleoids precedes cell division. Based on the common morphological and ultrastructural features, the three strains of Cyanothece examined constitute a distinct cluster, which might deserve independent generic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology
  • Cyanobacteria / ultrastructure*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Inclusion Bodies / chemistry
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Polyesters
  • Thylakoids / ultrastructure


  • Polyesters