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Relationship between nitrogen fixation and nitrate metabolism in the Nodularia strains M1 and M2

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Nitrogen fixation and nitrate-reduction activities were determined in photoautotrophic cultures of two wild-type strains of cyanobacterium Nodularia, spp. M1 and M2. Air could support growth of the two strains at a similar rate in the presence or absence of exogenous nitrate, ammonium and/or bicarbonate. Nitrogenase activity in air-grown cultures varied with culture age, and totally disappeared after 6 h of darkness. Recovery took place upon culture re-illumination. Ammonium at a concentration of 1 mM resulted in the total disappearance of nitrogenase activity and of heterocysts. In contrast, 20 mM nitrate hardly affected nitrogenase activity and heterocyst formation after ten generations. Under the same conditions, either ammonium or nitrate completely abolished nitrogenase activity and heterocyst formation in Anabaena sp. PCC 7119, a typical heterocystous strain. The inefficiency of nitrate in inhibiting nitrogen fixation in Nodularia M1 and M2 seemed to be caused by a low nitrate-reductase activity, and not by an impairment of nitrate-uptake activity. On the other hand, the presence of nitrate was not required for uptake activity to be expressed in Nodularia.

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Author information

Correspondence to Francisca F. del Campo.

Additional information

We thank C. Fernández-Cabrera (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC, Madrid, Spain) for technical assistance, and Dr. G. Pérez-Silva (CSIC) for his collaboration in the Anabaena NR assays. This work was supported by grants from Spanish CI-CyT (PB 87-0204 and PB 92-0497).

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Sanz-Alférez, S., del Campo, F.F. Relationship between nitrogen fixation and nitrate metabolism in the Nodularia strains M1 and M2. Planta 194, 339–345 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00197533

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Key words

  • Blue-green alga
  • Cyanobacterium
  • Nitrate (reduction, uptake)
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nodularia