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Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) are the major components of thylakoid membranes and well-conserved from cyanobacteria to chloroplasts. However, cyanobacteria and chloroplasts synthesize these galactolipids using different pathways and enzymes, but they are believed to share a common ancestor. This fact implies that there was a replacement of the cyanobacterial galactolipid biosynthesis pathway during the evolution of a chloroplast. In this study, we first replaced the cyanobacterial MGDG biosynthesis pathway in a model cyanobacterium, Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, with the corresponding plant-type pathway. No obvious phenotype was observed under the optimum growth condition, and the content of membrane lipids was not largely altered in the transformants. We next replaced the cyanobacterial DGDG biosynthesis pathway with the corresponding plant-type pathway using the strain described above and isolated the strain harboring the replaced plant-type pathway instead of the whole galactolipid biosynthesis pathway. This transformant, SeGPT, can grow photoautotrophically, indicating that cyanobacterial galactolipid biosynthesis pathways can be functionally complemented by the corresponding plant-type pathways and that the lipid products MGDG and DGDG, and not biosynthesis pathways, are important. While SeGPT does not show strong growth retardation, the strain has low cellular chlorophyll content but it retained a similar oxygen evolution rate per chlorophyll content compared with the wild type. An increase in total membrane lipid content was observed in SeGPT, which was caused by a significant increase in DGDG content. SeGPT accumulated carotenoids from the xanthophyll groups. These results suggest that cyanobacteria have the capacity to accept other pathways to synthesize essential components of thylakoid membranes. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


Egi Tritya Apdila, Shukumi Inoue, Mie Shimojima, Koichiro Awai. Complete Replacement of the Galactolipid Biosynthesis Pathway with a Plant-Type Pathway in the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. Plant & cell physiology. 2020 Sep 01;61(9):1661-1668

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PMID: 32645152

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