Laboratory conditions have been identified that cause the rapid death of cultures of cyanobacteria producing urease. Once the death phase had initiated in the stationary growth phase, cells were rapidly bleached of all pigmentation. Null mutations in the ureC gene, encoding the alpha subunit of urease, were constructed, and these mutants were no longer sensitive to growth in the presence of urea. High levels of peroxides, including lipid peroxides, were detected in the bleaching cells. Exogenously added polyunsaturated fatty acids triggered a similar death response. Vitamin E suppressed the formation of peroxides and delayed the onset of cell bleaching. The results suggest that these cyanobacterial cells undergo a metabolic imbalance that ultimately leads to oxidative stress and lipid peroxide formation. These observations may provide insights into the mechanism of sudden cyanobacterial bloom disappearance in nature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology