Bacterial Intracellular Membranes


This article describes the occurrence, structure, arrangement and function of bacterial intracytoplasmic membranes (ICMS) including magnetosomes of magnetotactic bacteria, the thylakoids of cyanobacteria and chloroxybacteria, the ICMS of purple bacteria and chemoautotrophic bacteria, the chlorosomes of green bacteria and the anammoxosome of ammonia‐oxidising bacteria.

Key Concepts

  • Intracellular membranes provide additional surface area for key biological processes.
  • Phototrophic bacteria exhibit a diversity of light‐harvesting structures with unique pigment composition.
  • Although the presence of thylakoids, intracellular cytoplasmic membranes and chlorosomes can indicate photosystem, they are not useful as a taxonomic trait.
  • Magnetosomes control both the morphology and composition of the magnetic mineral.
  • The anammoxosome is most likely the site of ammonia oxidation.

Keywords: thylakoids; phycobilisomes; intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM); chlorosome; anammoxosome

Figure 1. Examples of thylakoid and intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM) arrangement in phototrophic prokaryotes. (a) Radially arranged thylakoids in the filamentous cyanobacterium Microcoleus chthonoplastes, bar 250 nm, (b) thylakoids in the coccoid cyanobacterium Entophysalis major showing a triangular arrangement in cross section, bar is 500 nm, (c) peripherally arranged thylakoids in the filamentous cyanobacterium Phormidium sp., bar is 100 nm, (d) tubular bundles of ICMs in a Thiocapsa sp., bar is 250 nm, (e) vesicular ICMs in a Rhodobacter sp., bar is 250 nm, (f) lamellar arrangement of membranes with chlorosomes in an unidentified filamentous green bacterium, bar is 100 nm.


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Further Reading

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Stolz, John F(Jan 2020) Bacterial Intracellular Membranes. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000303.pub3]