Colony development and physiological characterization of the edible blue-green alga, Nostoc sphaeroides (Nostocaceae, Cyanophyta)

Zhongyang Deng, Qiang Hu, Fan Lu, Guoxiang Liu, Zhengyu Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The edible blue-green alga, Nostoc sphaeroides Kützing, is able to form microcolonies and spherical macrocolonies. It has been used as a potent herbal medicine and dietary supplement for centuries because of its nutraceutical and pharmacological benefits. However, limited information is available on the development of the spherical macrocolonies and the environmental factors that affect their structure. This report described the morphogenesis of N. sphaeroides from single trichomes to macrocolonies. During the process, most structural features of macrocolonies of various sizes were dense maculas, rings, the compact core and the formation of liquid core; and the filaments within the macrocolonies showed different lengths and arrays depending on the sizes of macrocolonies. Meanwhile temperature and light intensity also strongly affected the internal structure of macrocolonies. As microcolonies further increased in size to form 30 mm macrocolonies, the colonies differentiated into distinct outer, middle and inner layers. The filaments of the outer layer showed higher maximum photosynthetic rates, higher light saturation point, and higher photosynthetic efficiency than those of the inner layer; whereas the filaments of the inner layer had a higher content of chlorophyll a and phycobiliproteins than those of the outer layer. The results obtained in this study were important for the mass cultivation of N. sphaeroides as a nutraceutical product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1483
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Natural Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Macrocolony
  • Morphogenesis
  • Nostoc sphaeroides
  • Photosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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