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Free Content Regulation of photosynthesis in the unicellular acidophilic red alga Galdieria sulphuraria

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Extremophilic organisms are gaining increasing interest because of their unique metabolic capacities and great biotechnological potential. The unicellular acidophilic and mesothermophilic red alga Galdieria sulphuraria (074G) can grow autotrophically in light as well as heterotrophically in the dark. In this paper, the effects of externally added glucose on primary and secondary photosynthetic reactions are assessed to elucidate mixotrophic capacities of the alga. Photosynthetic O2 evolution was quantified in an open system with a constant supply of CO2 to avoid rapid volatilization of dissolved inorganic carbon at low pH levels. In the presence of glucose, O2 evolution was repressed even in illuminated cells. Ratios of variable to maximum chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) and 77 K fluorescence spectra indicated a reduced photochemical efficiency of photosystem II. The results were corroborated by strongly reduced levels of the photosystem II reaction centre protein D1. The downregulation of primary photosynthetic reactions was accompanied by reduced levels of the Calvin Cycle enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Both effects depended on functional sugar uptake and are thus initiated by intracellular rather than extracellular glucose. Following glucose depletion, photosynthetic O2 evolution of illuminated cells commenced after 15 h and Rubisco levels again reached the levels of autotrophic cells. It is concluded that true mixotrophy, involving electron transport across both photosystems, does not occur in G. sulphuraria 074G, and that heterotrophic growth is favoured over autotrophic growth if sufficient organic carbon is available.
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Keywords: Cyanidiaceae; Rhodophyta; acidophiles; extremophiles; heterotrophy; mixotrophy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institut für Chemie, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, D-14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany, and 2: Institut für Biologie, Königin-Luise-Str. 12-16, Freie Universität Berlin, D-14195 Berlin, Germany 3: Institut für Biochemie und Biologie, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, D-14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany,

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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