Akinetes: Dormant cells of cyanobacteria

Ruth N. Kaplan-Levy, Ora Hadas, Michael L. Summers, Jacqueline Rücker, Assaf Sukenik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Cyanobacteria are an ancient and morphologically diverse group of photosynthetic prokaryotes, which were the first to evolve oxygenic photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria are widely distributed in diversed environments. In the case of members of the orders Nostocales and Stigonematales, their persistence and success were attributed to their ability to form specialized cells: heterocysts, capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and spore-like cells, the akinetes. This review focuses on akinetes of Nostocales, emphasizing environmental triggers and cellular responses involved in differentiation, maturation, dormancy, and germination of these resting cells. Morphological and structural changes, variation in akinete composition, and metabolism are summarized. Special attention is given to the genetic regulation of the differentiation process in an attempt to close gaps in our understanding of the dormancy phenomenon in cyanobacteria and to identify open questions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDormancy and Resistance in Harsh Environments
EditorsEsther Lubzens
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameTopics in Current Genetics
ISSN (Print)1610-2096
ISSN (Electronic)1610-6970

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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