A quantitative ultrastructural study of Chromatium minus in the bacterial layer of Lake Cisó (Spain)

Isabel Esteve, Emili Montesinos, James G. Mitchell, Ricardo Guerrero

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A quantitative ultrastructural study was performed with samples taken throughout a layer of the purple sulfur bacterium Chromatium minus in Lake Cisó (Spain). Ultrathin sections of cells were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy, in order to study the size, number and volume of intracytoplasmic membranes (ICM), sulfur globules and poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) granules per unit volume of cell. Important differences were seen between cells from the top (receiving 60 μE · m-2 · s-1 at noon) on the one hand, and cells from the peak and bottom parts of the bacterial layer (receiving less than 1 μE · m-2 · s-1) on the other hand. The amount of ICM per cell increased as a function of depth being about three times higher in bottom cells than in top cells. Neither statistically significant differences in cell size, nor in numbers of sulfur globules were found, but the ultrastructure changed with depth. Finally, the most important changes throughout depth were detected in PHB granules. Top cells had 0.5% of their volume occupied by PHB granules, whereas in the bottom cells the corresponding value was 12.2%. These changes were due to the number of PHB granules per unit volume of cell since globule size was constant. © 1990 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-323
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1990


  • Bacterial layers in lakes
  • Chromatium minus
  • Intracytoplasmic membranes
  • Poly-β-hydroxybutyrate
  • Quantitative ultrastructure
  • Sulfur globules


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