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A bioenergetic assessment of photosynthetic growth of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 in continuous cultures

Touloupakis, Eleftherios, Cicchi, Bernardo, Torzillo, Giuseppe
Biotechnology for biofuels 2015 v.8 no.1 pp. 133
Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, amino acids, biochemical pathways, bioenergy, biomass production, bioplastics, carbohydrate content, carbon dioxide, chlorophyll, energy, equations, fluorescence, genetic transformation, lipid content, models, nitrates, photons, photosynthesis, phycocyanin, protein content, zeaxanthin
BACKGROUND: Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, a model organism used for bioenergy and bioplastic production, was grown in continuous culture to assess its most important bioenergetic parameters. RESULTS: Biomass yield on light energy of 1.237 g mol photons⁻¹ and maintenance energy requirement of 0.00312 mol photons g⁻¹ h⁻¹ were calculated. This corresponded to a light conversion efficiency of 12.5 %, based on the model of Pirt which was about 35 % lower than the theoretical one based on the stoichiometric equation for the formation of biomass on carbon dioxide, water, and nitrate. The maximum F ᵥ/F ₘ ratio recorded in the Synechocystis cultures was 0.57; it progressively declined to 0.45 as the dilution rate increased. An over-reduction of reaction centers at a high dilution rate was also recorded, together with an increased VJ phase for the chlorophyll fluorescence transient. In contrast, the chlorophyll optical cross section increased by about 40 % at the fastest dilution rate, and compensated for the decline in F ᵥ/F ₘ, thus resulting in a constant total photosynthesis rate (photosynthesis plus respiration). Chlorophyll content was maximum at the lowest dilution rate and was 48 % lower at the highest one, while phycocyanin, and total carotenoids decreased by about 42 % and 37 %, respectively. Carotenoid analysis revealed increased echinenone, zeaxanthin, and myxoxanthophyll contents as the dilution rate increased (40.6, 63.8 and 35.5 %, respectively, at the fastest dilution rate). A biochemical analysis of the biomass harvested at each different dilution rates showed no changes in the lipid content (averaging 11.2 ± 0.6 % of the dry weight), while the protein content decreased as the dilution rate increased, ranging between 60.7 ± 1.1 and 72.6 ± 0.6 %. Amino acids pattern did not vary with the dilution rate. Carbohydrate content ranged from 9.4 to 16.2 % with a mean value of 11.2 ± 1.4 %. CONCLUSIONS: The present work provides useful information on the threshold of light conversion efficiency in Synechocystis, as well as basic bioenergetic parameters that will be helpful for future studies related to its genetic transformation and metabolic network reconstruction.