Anabaena is a genus of filamentous cyanobacteria that exists as plankton. It is known for its nitrogen fixing abilities, and they form symbiotic relationships with certain plants, such as the mosquito fern. They are one of four genera of cyanobacteria that produce neurotoxins, which are harmful to local wildlife, as well as farm animals and pets. Production of these neurotoxins is assumed to be an input into its symbiotic relationships, protecting the plant from grazing pressure.
A DNA sequencing project was undertaken in 1999, which mapped the complete genome of Anabaena, which is 7.2 million base pairs long. The study focused on heterocysts, which convert nitrogen into ammonia. Certain species of Anabaena have been used on rice paddy fields, proving to be an effective natural fertilizer.
Nitrogen fixation by Anabaena
Under nitrogen-limiting conditions, vegetative cells differentiate into heterocysts at semi-regular intervals along the filaments. Heterocysts are cells that are terminally specialized for nitrogen fixation. The interior of these cells is microoxic as a result of increased respiration, inactivation of O2-producing photosystem (PS) II, and formation of a thickened envelope outside of the cell wall. Nitrogenase, sequestered within these cells, transforms dinitrogen into ammonium at the expense of ATP and reductant—both generated by carbohydrate metabolism, a process that is supplemented, in the light, by the activity of PS I. Carbohydrate, probably in the form of sucrose, is synthesized in vegetative cells and moves into heterocysts. In return, nitrogen fixed in heterocysts moves into the vegetative cells, at least in part in the form of amino acids.
- Anabaena Bory de Saint-Vincent ex Bornet & Flahault, 1886: 180, 224
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- Mishra, Y., Bhargavam P., Chaursia, N. and Rai, C.L. 2009. Proteomic evaluation of the non-survival of Anabaena doliolum (Cyanophyta) elevated temperatures. Eur. J.Phycol. 44: 551 - 565.