Phosphate uptake by cyanobacteria is associated with kinetic fractionation of phosphate oxygen isotopes

Hagar Lis*, Tal Weiner, Frances D. Pitt, Nir Keren, Alon Angert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The oxygen isotope ratio within phosphate (? 18 O P ) is an emerging powerful tool capable of providing valuable information on phosphorus (P) biogeochemistry. Microorganisms play a central role in phosphorus cycling in the environment, and microbial activity may result in both equilibrium and kinetic fractionation of phosphate oxygen isotopes. In the present paper, we focus on kinetic fractionation induced by microbial phosphorus uptake. This type of fractionation may result in nonequilibrium ? 18 O P values observed in some marine, freshwater, and terrestrial settings. We worked with the model cyanobacterium, Synechocystis PCC6803, which has two pst (phosphate specific transporter) type phosphate (PO 4 ) transporters, each characterized by a different affinity for PO 4 . We found that PO 4 uptake by Synechocystis in the P-uptake experiments induced fractionation when cells were P-limited. Moreover, under these conditions, Synechocystis preferentially took up the isotopically lighter P 16 O 4 . This resulted in a PO 4 -water oxygen isotope fractionation factor of ?3.33 permil, similar to the value previously reported for Escherichia coli. Results from PO 4 transporter mutants show that high affinity, and not low affinity, pst's were responsible for this fractionation. On the basis of our results, we suggest that the degree of kinetic fractionation induced by biological uptake is dependent on the type of transporter involved in the uptake process.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Synechococcus PCC6803
  • cyanobacteria
  • kinetic fractionation
  • oxygen isotope ratio (? O )
  • phosphate
  • phosphate transport


Dive into the research topics of 'Phosphate uptake by cyanobacteria is associated with kinetic fractionation of phosphate oxygen isotopes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this