Maria Ermakova

University of Turku,
Supervisor: Eva-Mari Aro, Yagut Allahverdiyeva-Rinne
Funding: other
Date: 2012-01-01

Structure and function of flavodiiron proteins in N2-fixing cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120

Cyanobacteria compose a phylum of bacteria that obtain their energy through oxygenic water splitting photosynthesis. They can be found in almost every conceivable environment, in oceans, fresh water, bare rock, soil. Cyanobacteria are important model organisms for photosynthesis research as they are simple prokaryotic organisms and yet have acquired a capacity to perform oxygenic photosynthesis, similar to that of higher plants.

Flavodiiron proteins (FLV) in cyanobacteria compose a subfamily presented by proteins with a special domain structure and able to perform electron transfer from NAD(P)H to oxygen or nitric oxide. Genomes of filamentous cyanobacteria (such as Anabaena sp. PCC 7120) contain six genes of this subfamily. Filamentous cyanobacteria are an important group since, in addition to their photosynthetic CO2 fixation capacity, they can also fix atmospheric N2 and are therefore crucial for global CO2 balance and nitrogen fertilization. Under N2 starvation, the filamentous cyanobacteria induce the development of special, anaerobic, cells called heterocysts that are the site of fixation of atmospheric N2.

Current research work focuses on the dissection of the localization, functions, mechanisms of action and influence on the entire cell metabolism of the six flavodiiron proteins in filamentous cyanobacteria using systems biology approach.