J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 1981, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (4): -.

• Research Articles •    

Oxygen Sensitive Nitrogen-Fixing Mutants of Anabaena

Wang Ye-qin, He Jia-Wan, Daf Ling-fen and Li Shanh-hao   

Abstract: Two Anabaena mutants having heterocysts but incapable of fixing molecular nitrogen in air have been isolated by using ultraviolet radiation or NTG mutagenesis. Their vegetative cells differentiated into heterocysts at a higher frequency than that of the wild type. The phenotype of the mutants is stable and a low frequence of spontaneous reversion was observed. Under microaerobic condition the mutants cells can express the genetic information which encodes nitrogenase synthesis and were capable of utilizing nitrogen for growth with a low acetylene reductiop activity. The level of nitrogenase activity was correlated reciprocally with the content of cell phycocyanin and the light intensity. Both synthesis and activity of the mutant nitrogenase were very sensitive than wild type to the oxygen in vive. Introduction of 1% O2 (v/v) into the gas phase inhibited evidently acetylene reduction. Exposure of the mutant suspension to 20% O2 (v/v) resulted in total and irreversible denaturation of nitrogenase. Withdrawing of O2 in gas phase, the nitrogenase was synthesized de nero; The synthesis process was repressed by chloramphenical or ammonia. The nitrogenase activity of mutant cells increased significantly either by nitrogen- starvating to decrease the phycocyanin content or by lowering the light intensity. Specifically, during the anaerobic induction by treating the mutants filaments with diehloromethylurea which prevents photosynthetic oxygen production, the specific activity of mutant nitrogcnase was equivalent nearly to that of wild type. The ability to reduce 2, 3, 5-triphenyltetrazolium was lower in heterocysts and vegetative cells of mutants than in that of wild type. The results suggest that the oxygen sensitivity of nitrogen fixation by heterocystous bluegreen algal mutants may be duc to the defect of some enzymic systems which might play a role in scavenging oxygen toxity, so that the process of nitrogen fixation is inhibited by the active oxygen produced by vegetative cells. The mechanism of protecting nitrogenase from oxygen damage in blue-green algae is discussed.

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