Modulation of photosynthesis in Synechocystis and Synechococcus grown with chromium (VI)


Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 exhibit dissimilar tolerance to Cr(VI) with a tenfold difference in their EC50 value for Cr(VI). This contrasting tolerance was attributed to the difference in the ability to transport Cr(VI) and to detoxify ROS. The present study used biochemical assays and chlorophyll fluorescence to investigate the effect of growth with Cr(VI) on photosynthesis in the two cyanobacteria. In absence of Cr(VI), all the measured parameters viz., rates of CO2 fixation, PSII and PSI activities were higher in Synechocystis in comparison to Synechococcus, suggesting intrinsic differences in their photosynthesis. Growth in the presence of Cr(VI) reduced the pigment content and photosystems’ activities in both cyanobacteria. It was further observed that photosynthetic functions were more adversely affected in Synechocystis in comparison to Synechococcus, in spite of exposure to tenfold lower Cr(VI) concentration. The effective quantum yield of PSII and PSI obtained by chlorophyll fluorescence measurements increased in the presence of Cr(VI) in Synechococcus whereas it decreased in Synechocystis. However, the overall CO2 fixation remained unchanged. These results indicated that, in addition to the intrinsic difference in photosynthetic rates, the two cyanobacteria exhibit differential modulation of photosynthetic machinery upon Cr(VI) exposure and Synechococcus could adapt better it’s photosystems to counter the oxidative stress.

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Figure 1
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Figure 7



Cyclic electron flow


Electron transport rate for PSI


Electron transport rate for PSII


Pulse amplitude modulation


Photosynthetically active radiation


Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Photochemical quantum yield of PSI


Effective quantum yield of PSII


Quantum yield of non-regulated energy dissipation

Fm :

Maximum fluorescence

Fo :

Minimum fluorescence after dark adaptation

Fv :

Variable fluorescence

Pm :

Maximal change in P700+ signal


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The authors thank AVSSN Rao, Rachna Agarwal and Hema Rajaram, MBD, BARC Mumbai, for critical reading of the manuscript, and N Tekade for technical help. JKS acknowledges Department of Atomic Energy, India, for the Raja Ramanna Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Alka Gupta.

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Corresponding editor: BJ Rao

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Gupta, A., Sainis, J.K., Bhagwat, S.G. et al. Modulation of photosynthesis in Synechocystis and Synechococcus grown with chromium (VI). J Biosci 46, 1 (2021).

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  • Chromium (VI)
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • cyanobacteria
  • Dual PAM
  • photosynthesis
  • Synechocystis
  • Synechococcus