PAHs reduce DNA synthesis and delay cell division in the widespread primary producer Prochlorococcus

Maria Isabel Cerezo*, Susana Agusti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus is the most abundant primary producer in the ocean. In a global study across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, we tested the effect of organic pollutants on the growth and cell division of natural Prochlorococcus populations. Sub-lethal concentrations of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) altered Prochlorococcus cell division by reducing DNA synthesis and decreasing the percentage of cells entering mitosis. Cell division time increased with PAHs dosage by 1.2 h per μg L-1 of mixture added. At PAHs dosages >1 μg L-1, Prochlorococcus cell division tended to arrest at S-phase (DNA synthesis). As a consequence, population growth was significantly reduced in the presence of PAHs. The presence of PAHs resulted in a predictable alteration of the cell cycle of the widespread cyanobacteria. The dosages tested are above concentrations in the open ocean, but found in the coastal ocean, where Prochlorococcus growth must be inhibited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Cell cycle
  • DNA
  • Ocean
  • PAHs
  • Prochlorococcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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