Isolation and identification of an epibiotic bacterium associated with heterocystous Anabaena cells

Bradley S. Stevenson*, John B. Waterbury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Heterotrophic bacteria are commonly found in close associations with photosynthetic cyanobacteria in aquatic ecosystems. Some of these associations can be species-specific and mutualistic, resulting in optimal growth and nitrogen-fixing potential for the cyanobacteria. A two-membered culture, consisting of a heterotrophic, epibiotic bacterium attached to an Anabaena sp. was studied in the work reported here. The epibiotic bacterium was grown in pure culture, and both organisms were identified on the basis of their 16S rRNA gene sequence. The specificity of the epibiont for the Anabaena sp. heterocysts was confirmed by re-association experiments. The epibiont is a member of the Alphaproteobacteria in the order Rhizobiales, with close relatives that include a group of aerobic anoxygenic photosynthetic marine isolates commonly associated with dinoflagellate phytoplankton. The close association of the epibiotic bacterium with its Anabaena host, and its phylogenic affiliation allude to the evolutionary history of association with photosynthetic organisms for a group of Rhizobia and warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-77
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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