In this study, a simple and rapid DAPI-based protocol was developed and optimized to visualize polyphosphates (polyPs) in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. The optimum dye concentration and incubation time were determined, and formaldehyde fixation was shown to significantly improve polyP detection in Synechocystis cells. Using the developed protocol, for the first time, it was shown that 80% of Synechocystis cells under phosphate overplus were able to accumulate phosphorus as polyP 3 min after the addition of K2HPO4. After 1 h, the number of cells with polyP began to decrease, and after 24 h, polyP granules were detected in only 30% of the cells. Thus, the Synechocystis cells appeared to be heterogeneous in their ability to accumulate and mobilize polyP. Like other photosynthetic organisms, Synechocystis synthesized less polyP in the dark than in the light. The accumulation of polyP was not inhibited under conditions of cold and heat stresses, and some cells were even able to synthesize polyP at a temperature of approximately 0 °C.
Keywords: Cyanobacteria; DAPI; Fluorescence microscopy; Polyphosphate accumulation; Polyphosphate visualization.