Suppression of Mutants Aberrant in Light Intensity Responses of Complementary Chromatic Adaptation

J Bacteriol. 1997 Jul;179(14):4599-606. doi: 10.1128/jb.179.14.4599-4606.1997.


Complementary chromatic adaptation is a process in which cyanobacteria alter the pigment protein (phycocyanin and phycoerythrin) composition of their light-harvesting complexes, the phycobilisomes, to help optimize the absorbance of prevalent wavelengths of light in the environment. Several classes of mutants that display aberrant complementary chromatic adaptation have been isolated. One of the mutant classes, designated "blue" or FdB, accumulates high levels of the blue chromoprotein phycocyanin in low-intensity green light, a condition that normally suppresses phycocyanin synthesis. We demonstrate here that the synthesis of the phycocyanin protein and mRNA in the FdB mutants can be suppressed by increasing the intensity of green light. Hence, these mutants have a decreased sensitivity to green light with respect to suppression of phycocyanin synthesis. Although we were unable to complement the blue mutants, we did isolate genes that could suppress the mutant phenotype. These genes, which have been identified previously, encode a histidine kinase sensor and response regulator protein that play key roles in controlling complementary chromatic adaptation. These findings are discussed with respect to the mechanism by which light quality and quantity control the biosynthesis of the phycobilisome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics*
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genomic Library
  • Glucuronidase / genetics
  • Light*
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes*
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / genetics
  • Phycobilisomes
  • Phycocyanin / biosynthesis*
  • Phycocyanin / genetics
  • Phycoerythrin / metabolism
  • Plasmids
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Suppression, Genetic*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Phycobilisomes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RcaE protein, cyanobacteria
  • Phycocyanin
  • Phycoerythrin
  • RcaC protein, Fremyella diplosiphon
  • Glucuronidase