Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1649–1658 | Cite as

Characterization of the iron-containing superoxide dismutase and its response to stress in cyanobacterium Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis

  • Mostafa M. S. Ismaiel
  • Yassin M. El-Ayouty
  • Peter C. Loewen
  • Michele D. Piercey-Normore


Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is considered a primary antioxidant which defends against reactive oxygen species that are induced by environmental stress. In this study, we examined changes in SOD activity and expression in the cyanobacterium Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis under iron and salinity stress; we characterized its induction under these stress conditions and we overexpressed the enzyme in a bacterial host for preliminary characterization. Analysis of SOD isoforms concludes that S. platensis was found to regulate only the iron-containing SOD isoform (FeSOD) in response to two types of stress that were tested. The FeSOD expression (on the level of both mRNA and enzyme activity) was induced by the stress conditions of salinity and iron levels. The FeSOD from S. platensis was overexpressed in Escherichia coli BL21. The recombinant FeSOD protein (about 23 kDa) was purified for characterization. It showed high specific activity and pH stability at 6.0–9.0, and it is relatively thermostable, retaining 45 % of its activity after 30 min at 90 °C. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that S. platensis FeSOD is grouped with the FeSODs from other cyanobacterial species and separated from those of the eukaryotic Chlorophyta, suggesting that the FeSOD gene may be used as a molecular marker in physiological, phylogenetic, and taxonomic studies. This study also suggests that the increased activity and expression of SOD may play a role in algal survival under stress conditions.


FeSOD expression Iron-containing superoxide dismutase Phylogeny pH stability Reactive oxygen species (ROS) Recombinant SOD Spirulina platensis Thermostability 



The authors thank Dr. D. Weihrauch, Dr. G. Hausner, Dr. M.H. Abdelfattah, and Dr. M. Elhiti for technical assistance and the Department of Missions (Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt) for providing financial support through a channel system scholarship (to MSI). This work was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (to MPN and PCL) and by the Canada Research Chair program (to PCL).

Supplementary material

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Table S1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mostafa M. S. Ismaiel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yassin M. El-Ayouty
    • 3
  • Peter C. Loewen
    • 2
  • Michele D. Piercey-Normore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Botany Department, Faculty of ScienceZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt

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