Research Papers


Inquisition of Microcystis aeruginosa and Synechocystis nanowires: characterization and modelling

Sure Sandeep, Torriero Angel A J, Gaur Aditya, Li Lu Hua, Chen Ying, Tripathi Chandrakant, Adholeya Alok, Acklandy M. Leigh, Kochar Mandira , 2015

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Vol 108(5): 1213-1225p


Identification of extracellular conductive pilus-like structures (PLS) i.e. microbial nanowires has spurred great interest among scientists due to their potential applications in the fields of biogeochemistry, bioelectronics, bioremediation etc. Using conductive atomic force microscopy, we identified microbial nanowires in Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 which is an aerobic, photosynthetic microorganism. We also confirmed the earlier finding that Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 produces microbial nanowires. In contrast to the use of highly instrumented continuous flow reactors for Synechocystis reported earlier, we identified simple and optimum culture conditions which allow increased production of nanowires in both test cyanobacteria. Production of these nanowires in Synechocystis and Microcystis were found to be sensitive to the availability of carbon source and light intensity. These structures seem to be proteinaceous in nature and their diameter was found to be 4.5–7 and 8.5–11 nm in Synechocystis and M. aeruginosa, respectively. Characterization of Synechocystis nanowires by transmission electron microscopy and biochemical techniques confirmed that they are type IV pili (TFP) while nanowires in M. aeruginosa were found to be similar to an unnamed protein (GenBank : CAO90693.1). Modelling studies of the Synechocystis TFP subunit i.e. PilA1 indicated that strategically placed aromatic amino acids may be involved in electron transfer through these nanowires. This study identifies PLS from Microcystis which can act as nanowires and supports the earlier hypothesis that microbial nanowires are widespread in nature and play diverse roles.


Pilus-like structures Microbial nanowires Synechocystis Microcystis aeruginosa Conductive AFM