Costs of Clock-Environment Misalignment in Individual Cyanobacterial Cells

Biophysical Journal
Guillaume LambertMichael J Rust

Abstract

Circadian rhythms are endogenously generated daily oscillations in physiology that are found in all kingdoms of life. Experimental studies have shown that the fitness of Synechococcus elongatus, a photosynthetic microorganism, is severely affected in non-24-h environments. However, it has been difficult to study the effects of clock-environment mismatch on cellular physiology because such measurements require a precise determination of both clock state and growth rate in the same cell. Here, we designed a microscopy platform that allows us to expose cyanobacterial cells to pulses of light and dark while quantitatively measuring their growth, division rate, and circadian clock state over many days. Our measurements reveal that decreased fitness can result from a catastrophic growth arrest caused by unexpected darkness in a small subset of cells with incorrect clock times corresponding to the subjective morning. We find that the clock generates rhythms in the instantaneous growth rate of the cell, and that the time of darkness vulnerability coincides with the time of most rapid growth. Thus, the clock mediates a fundamental trade-off between growth and starvation tolerance in cycling environments. By measuring the response of the...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Streblus elongatus
Microorganism
Metabolic Process, Cellular
Synechococcus
Fluctuation
Physiologic Pulse
Catastrophic Illness
Circadian Clocks
Darkness
Environment

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