Phototactic motility of synechocystis SP. uniwg (cyanobacteria) from brackish environment

Pamela S.Y. Toh, Saw Peng Yew, Kim Heok Yong, Kumar Sudesh*, Raeid M.M. Abed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although type IV pilus has been implicated in the phototactic motility of some unicellular cyanobacteria, its regulatory mechanism and the effect of environmental factors on motility are still unknown. Equally important is the ability of cyanobacterial cells to anchor themselves to an environment that is conducive for survival. We compared the motility of a newly isolated unicellular brackish cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. UNIWG, with the morphologically and phylogenetically similar freshwater cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 under different environmental conditions. The phototactic motility of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG on semisolid BG-11 medium with various concentrations of nitrogen source was significantly faster than that of Synechocystis PCC6803. Interestingly, the cell surface of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG showed the presence of rigid spicules when grown in liquid BG-11, a phenomenon that was absent in Synechocystis PCC6803. Negative staining of Synechocystis sp. UNIWG revealed the presence of two distinct pilus morphotypes, which resembled type IV pili and thin pili of Synechocystis PCC6803. This finding suggested a similar pattern of phototactic motility in both strains. However, the rigid spicules on Synechocystis sp. UNIWG seem to be more of a hindrance during type IV motility. It was determined that the spicules were degraded when the cells moved, such as under prolonged darkness and/or depletion of nitrogen source, indicating that the function of the spicules is to attach the cell to an environment that is conducive for its survival. Thus, Synechocystis sp. UNIWG shows phototaxis regulation that is more complex than Synechocystis PCC6803.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Motility
  • Spicules
  • Synechocystis sp. PCC6803
  • Synechocystis sp. UNIWG
  • Type IV pilus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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