Cyanobacteria Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
Cyanobacteria, also known as Blue-green algae, (Cyanophyta), (Myxophyta) and (Cyanochloronta) are difficult to classify, and there are numerous schools of thought on their Taxonomy. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic organisms however posess many of the same qualities as algae and therefore were previously categorized as such, hence the name blue-green algae. They form a class greatly dissimilar from that of other algae, and possess many of the same characteristics of bacteria. They produce energy via the process of photosynthesis and posses photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll a, just as plants, and phycobilin which are responsible for the blue-green hue. The main distribution of Cyanobacteria is in aquatic environments such as fresh and saltwater, they are however, found in terrestrial habitats where there is sufficient moisture and can even occur in deserts. Cyanobacteria do not have a nucleus or chloroplasts, they’re DNA and chlorophyll float freely within the cytoplasm. They show a variety of movements, such as gliding, rotation, oscillation, jerking and flicking. In addition they possess gas vesicles, giving them buoyancy in water. Cyanobacteria reproduce exclusively by asexual means via binary fission and may form exo- or endospores as well.
The existence of Cyanobacteria is of vital importance to all life on planet earth. The process by which the amospehere of planet earth changed, from its early atmosphere to what it is present day is due to the process of photosynthesis, which is originated in a Cyanobacterium. Oxygenic photosynthesis is what made Cyanobacteria unique among the early organisms on planet earth whereby it used Carbon dioxide from the atmospehere and water as an electron donor to produce carbohydrates, releasing oxygen as a byproduct. In comparison, other early organisms on planet earth produced energy via anoxygenic photosynthesis which did not produce free oxygen as a byproduct. The production of oxygen by Cyanobacteria led to what is known as The Great Oxidisation Event which, over millions of years, transformed the atmosphere to one abundant in oxygen from one containing only trace amounts. This event rendered many microorganisms which were intolerant to oxygen extinct, which in turn allowed for the evolution of complex animal life as we know today which is entirely reliant on oxygen for respiration. Another process that is completely unique to Cyanobacteria and no other organism is the ability to fix oxygenic nitrogen and perform oxygenic photosynthesis simultaneously. This is significant as nitrogen fixation in an anaerobic process, and even small amounts of oxygen render the key enzyme, nitrogenase, inactive. To bypass this limitation, filamentous Cyanobacteria colonies form specialized cells known as Heterocysts under nitrogen starved conditions i.e. in an argon atmosphere containing no nitrogen and a growth medium containing no nitrogen compounds such as nitrates and ammonia....

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