In Synechococcus sp. competition for energy between assimilation and acquisition of C and those of N only occurs when growth is light limited

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Journal of Experimental Botany, 2017, 68 (14)
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. All rights reserved. The carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) of cyanobacteria counteract the low CO2affinity and CO2:O2selectivities of the Rubisco of these photolithotrophs and the relatively low oceanic CO2availability. CCMs have a significant energy cost; if light is limiting, the use of N sources whose assimilation demands less energy could permit a greater investment of energy into CCMs and inorganic C (Ci) assimilation. To test this, we cultured Synechococcus sp. UTEX LB 2380 under either N or energy limitation, in the presence of NO3−or NH4+. When growth was energy-limited, NH4+grown cells had a 1.2-fold higher growth rate, 1.3-fold higher dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)-saturated photosynthetic rate, 19% higher linear electron transfer, 80% higher photosynthetic 1/K1/2(DIC), 2.0-fold greater slope of the linear part of the photosynthesis versus DIC curve, 3.5-fold larger intracellular Ci pool, and 2.3-fold higher Zn quota than NO3−-grown cells. When energy was not limiting growth, there were not differences between NH4+- and NO3−grown cells, except for higher linear electron transfer and larger intracellular Ci pool. We conclude that, when energy limits growth, cells that use the cheaper N source divert energy from N assimilation to C acquisition and assimilation; this does not happen when energy is not limiting.
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