SUMMARY: Oxygen-limited chemostat cultures of nitrogen-fixing showed an inverse relation between biomass and dilution rate, accounted for largely by increased polysaccharide and polyhydroxybutyrate content. Abrupt increase in O led to immediate increase in CO output followed later by increase in biomass and transition to N limitation; viability on N-free and NH-containing media remained at 80 to 100% during O stress. P-limited populations showed no respiratory reponse to O stress, viability dropped rapidly on N-free medium though the populations were 100% viable on NH medium. These findings support the view that respiration in these bacteria has, in part, a protective function for nitrogenase.


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