Cell filaments from Nostoc sp.
|Scientific name of the department|
|(ex Stanier 1974) Cavalier-Smith 2002|
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The cyanobacteria (from Greek κυανός kyanós , "blue", hence also blue-green bacteria ) form a division of the Bacteria domain . They are distinguished from all other bacteria by their mostly, but not in every kind, existing ability of oxygenic photosynthesis . In the past they were counted among the Phycophyta ( algae ) and listed as the class Cyanophyceae (blue-green algae). Some cyanobacteria contain blue phycocyanin in addition to other photosynthetic dyesand their color is therefore blue-green. That is why they were called "blue-green algae" and this name was used for all cyanobacteria - even for those that do not contain phycocyanin and are not colored blue-green. In contrast to algae, cyanobacteria do not have a real cell nucleus and, as prokaryotes, are not related to the eukaryotic organisms known as "algae" , but belong to bacteria. Cyanobacteria are among the oldest forms of life. You can perceive the direction of the incidence of light.
About 2000 types of cyanobacteria are named, which are divided into five to seven orders . Cyanobacteria with oxygenic photosynthesis are also called Oxyphotobacteria. Sericytochromatia and Melainabacteria count as non-photosynthetic cyanobacteria .
Features and occurrences
Cyanobacteria are gram-negative and one to multicellular. In multicellular cyanobacteria, the cells are arranged one behind the other in long threads ( e.g. Anabaena and Oscillatoria ), flat ( e.g. Merismopedia ) or three-dimensional ( e.g. Pleurocapsa and Microcystis ).
Cyanobacteria occur ubiquitously mainly in fresh water and wet soils, but also in sea water, on tree bark and on rock surfaces.
Photosynthesis in Oxyphotobacteria
The photosynthesis of the cyanobacteria takes place on or in their thylakoid membranes and takes place there in a similar way to the thylakoids of the chloroplasts of eukaryotic algae, mosses , ferns and seed plants . The cyanobacteria not only use the part of the light spectrum that the green plants use for their photosynthesis , but besides chlorophyll a they have an additional antenna complex in the form of phycobilisomes , in which phycobilins , namely phycocyanin (blue) or phycoerythrin (red), contain are. Phycocyanin gives many cyanobacteria their bluish color, some (e.g. Spirulina , Planktothrix rubescens ) gives phycoerythrin a red color. Since the ratio of the individual pigments to one another can fluctuate greatly, cyanobacteria sometimes appear green or even black ('ink streaks'). Phycobilins enable the use of a larger area of the light spectrum (in the green space of the plants, the wavelength range from approx. 500 to 600 nm). The efficiency of light utilization is even greater with phycoerythrin than with chlorophyll. In this way, cyanobacteria can successfully colonize pronounced weak light areas, such as B. the underside of river debris or deep layers in lakes .
Some cyanobacteria can also carry out anoxygenic photosynthesis with hydrogen sulfide as a reducing agent, so they do not form any oxygen (O 2 ). Recently a cyanobacterium was discovered (UCYN-A, English unicellular N2-fixing cyanobacteria in "group A" ), in which the photosystem II is missing. Photosystem II contains the water-splitting complex so that this cyanobacterium cannot carry out oxygenic photosynthesis. In contrast to oxygenic photoautotrophic living being fixed , this strain is not carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) in the Calvin-Benson cycle Basham and photoheterotroph. UCYN-A assimilates elemental nitrogen (N 2 ) by reducing it .
Genome analyzes of 16S ribosomal RNA identified cyanobacteria that do not photosynthesize. They are listed as Melainabacteria and Sericytochromatia in the literature. Further genome analyzes have shown that the genes for photosynthesis are missing in both strains. As a result, they split off from the precursors of the current Oxyphotobacteria, before they were able to photosynthesize via horizontal gene transfer . This also suggests that the common precursor of all cyanobacteria itself was not photosynthetically active.
Cyanobacteria produce very different toxins . The microcystins are best known among representatives of the genus Microcystis . In addition, a neurotoxin , the toxic amino acid β-methylamino-alanine (BMAA), could be detected even in species that are not closely related . Based on the often increased occurrence of cyanobacteria in so-called " algae blooms ", such toxins and also BMAA can get into the human organism via the food chain when fish or mussels are consumed and sometimes lead to fatal poisoning.
Cyanobacteria have been studied very intensively in natural product chemistry. The identified secondary metabolites show very different pharmacological effects.
Researchers at the Carnegie Institution found in early 2006 that the cyanobacteria living in Yellowstone National Park operate a metabolism that changes day and night: photosynthesis during the day and nitrogen fixation at night. As far as we know today, this is unique.
There are several systems for the taxonomy of cyanobacteria.
Taxonomy according to NCBI
The taxonomy database of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) only classifies two of a total of 7 orders into families . Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology uses the self-invented ranks Subsection and Subgroup instead of order and family , which are denoted by Roman numerals instead of names, since not all common orders and families have been validly described according to the Bacteriological Code .
Taxonomy according to NCBI
- Order Gloeobacterales (class Gloeobacteria): 1 genus, Gloeobacter
- Order nostocales
- Order Oscillatoriales : 27 genera, e.g. B. Lyngbya , Oscillatoria , Phormidium , Spirulina , Tychonema , Cyanothece with the raised bog blue algae
- Order Prochlorales (prochlorophytes)
The genus Acaryochloris is not classified by the NCBI in any order.
Thomas Cavalier-Smith names 6 orders, of which he puts the Gloeobacterales (with the only genus Gloeobacter ) in its own subdivision Gloeobacteria and the other subdivision, Phycobacteria , in the classes Chroobacteria (orders Chroococcales, Pleurocapsales, Oscillatoriales) and Hormogoneae , Stigonematales).
Significance for the development of animals and plants
About 2.5 billion years ago, the precursors of today's cyanobacteria, which spread massively in water, decisively changed the living conditions on earth. They used sunlight for photosynthesis and released oxygen (O 2 ) as a waste product . This massive production of oxygen ultimately led to a decisive change from the oxygen-free atmosphere to an oxygen-containing atmosphere ( Great Oxygen Catastrophe ).
According to the endosymbiont theory , the ancestors of today's cyanobacteria were the forerunners of the chloroplasts in green plants. This is supported by the matching cell anatomy as well as a set of matching biochemical characteristics, which distinguish the cyanobacteria, like the chloroplasts, from the properties of the eukaryotic cells.
A mass development of cyanobacteria can greatly reduce the water quality and significantly restrict the use of water. They produce a wide variety of secondary metabolites that act as allelochemicals , antibiotics , hormones and toxins , such as: B. Can damage fish and zooplankton . Some of the toxins are among the most powerful natural poisons and can also be harmful to human health. For example, allergic skin reactions and inflammation can develop in bathers. If you swallow water containing cyanobacteria, stomach and intestinal infections can also occur.
In 2017, the concentration of the cyanobacterial toxin anatoxin A was so high in Tegeler See in Berlin and in 2019 in Mandichosee near Augsburg that animals died from it. They were cyanobacteria of the genus Tychonema , which were also detected microscopically in the lakes. In the summer of 2020 6 dogs died after bathing in Lake Neuchâtel as a result of suspected increased 'blue-green algae concentration', so that a bathing ban was issued.
After the cyanobacterial masses die off, oxygen is consumed during their microbial breakdown. This often greatly reduces the oxygen concentration in the water, which can lead to fish deaths .
The conditions for strong reproduction of cyanobacteria are diverse and cannot always be clearly clarified. High phosphate - and possibly nitrogen content in the water - caused, for example, by untreated wastewater with detergent residues or by animal excrement - can, in connection with higher water temperatures, promote the development of bacteria.
- Algae fern plants for symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria
- Stromatolites - sedimentary rocks formed by cyanobacteria
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