Export of Extracellular Polysaccharides Modulates Adherence of the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis

Michael L. Fisher, Rebecca Allen, Yingqin Luo, Roy Curtiss

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56 Scopus citations


The field of cyanobacterial biofuel production is advancing rapidly, yet we know little of the basic biology of these organisms outside of their photosynthetic pathways. We aimed to gain a greater understanding of how the cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 (Synechocystis, hereafter) modulates its cell surface. Such understanding will allow for the creation of mutants that autoflocculate in a regulated way, thus avoiding energy intensive centrifugation in the creation of biofuels. We constructed mutant strains lacking genes predicted to function in carbohydrate transport or synthesis. Strains with gene deletions of slr0977 (predicted to encode a permease component of an ABC transporter), slr0982 (predicted to encode an ATP binding component of an ABC transporter) and slr1610 (predicted to encode a methyltransferase) demonstrated flocculent phenotypes and increased adherence to glass. Upon bioinformatic inspection, the gene products of slr0977, slr0982, and slr1610 appear to function in O-antigen (OAg) transport and synthesis. However, the analysis provided here demonstrated no differences between OAg purified from wild-type and mutants. However, exopolysaccharides (EPS) purified from mutants were altered in composition when compared to wild-type. Our data suggest that there are multiple means to modulate the cell surface of Synechocystis by disrupting different combinations of ABC transporters and/or glycosyl transferases. Further understanding of these mechanisms may allow for the development of industrially and ecologically useful strains of cyanobacteria. Additionally, these data imply that many cyanobacterial gene products may possess as-yet undiscovered functions, and are meritorious of further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere74514
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 10 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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