Cyanobacteria represent a globally important biomass because they are responsible for a substantial proportion of primary production in the hydrosphere. Arthrospira platensis is a fast-growing halophilic cyanobacterium capable of accumulating glycogen and has the potential to serve as a feedstock in the fermentative production of third-generation biofuels. Accordingly, enhancing cyanobacterial glycogen production is a promising biofuel production strategy. However, the regulatory mechanism of glycogen metabolism in cyanobacteria is poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to determine the metabolic flux of glycogen biosynthesis using a dynamic metabolomic approach. Time-course profiling of widely targeted cyanobacterial metabolic intermediates demonstrated a global metabolic reprogramming that involves transient increases in the levels of some amino acids during the glycogen production phase induced by nitrate depletion. Also, in vivo labelling with NaH13CO3 enabled direct measurement of metabolic intermediate turnover in A. platensis, revealing that under conditions of nitrate depletion glycogen is biosynthesized with carbon derived from amino acids released from proteins via gluconeogenesis. This dynamic metabolic profiling approach provided conclusive evidence of temporal alterations in the metabolic profile in cyanobacterial cells.
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