Office of Science


Cyanothece 51142
Cyanothece 51142 (~3-4μm)

Membrane Biology researchers used a systems approach to understand the network of genes and proteins that govern the structure and function of membranes and their components responsible for photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation in cyanobacteria (often referred to as blue-green algae). A systems approach integrated all temporal information into a predictive, dynamic model to understand the function of a cell and the cellular membranes. These microorganisms make significant contributions to harvesting solar energy, planetary carbon sequestration, metal acquisition, and hydrogen production in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Cyanobacteria are also model microorganisms for studying the fixation of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis at the biomolecular level. The results of this Grand Challenge provided the first comprehensive systems-level understanding of how environmental conditions influence key carbon fixation processes at the gene-protein-organism level. This Grand Challenge topic was selected because it addressed critical U.S. Department of Energy science needs, provided model microorganisms to apply high-throughput biology and computational modeling, and took advantage of EMSL's experimental and computational capabilities.


The Membrane Biology Scientific Grand Challenge team achieved its goals, which were stated at the outset of the project:

  1. To investigate the biological carbon sequestration processes in Synechocystis 6803 and Cyanothece 51142.
  2. To provide results that respond to the question: How do the structure and dynamics of key membrane proteins regulate energy transduction, photosynthesis, hydrogen production, and metal ion homeostasis, and how is this regulation affected by the environment?
  3. To develop software tools useful for #1 and #2.

The overarching goal of the Membrane Biology Grand Challenge was to provide discoveries that support the engineering of oxygenic photosynthetic microbes with enhanced carbon sequestration abilities.

  1. Dynamic proteome analysis of Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142 under constant light.
  2. Crystal structure of cce_0566 from Cyanothece 51142, a protein associated with nitrogen fixation in the DUF269 family.
  3. A Model of Cyclic Transcriptomic Behavior in Cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142.
  4. Diurnal Rhythms Result in Significant Changes in the Cellular Protein Complement in the Cyanobacterium Cyanothece 51142.
  5. Unique Thylakoid Membrane Architecture of aUnicellular N2-Fixing Cyanobacterium Revealedby Electron Tomography.
  1. Dynamic proteome analysis of Cyanothece 51142 (Shedding Light on Photosynthesis)
  2. Atypical stress response for algae influences photosynthetic productivity (Even Algae Get Stressed)

Contact: Dave Koppenaal | | (509) 371-6549