The phycobilisome is a large pigment-protein assembly that harvests light energy for photosynthesis. This supramolecular complex is composed of two main structures: a core substructure and peripheral rods. Linker polypeptides assemble phycobiliproteins within these structures and optimize light absorption and energy transfer. Mutations have been constructed in three rod-linker-coding genes located in the operon of sp. strain PCC6803. The gene encoding the 33 kDa linker is found to be epistatic to encoding the 30 kDa linker, indicating a specific role for each of these two linkers in rod growth. This corroborates studies on the sequential degradation of phycobilisomes upon nitrogen starvation. Three allelic mutants affecting revealed a polar effect of commonly used cassettes (, ) on the operon steady-state transcripts and an effect of rod linker availability on the amount of phycocyanin incorporated in the phycobilisome. This led to the proposal that regulation of rod length could occur through processing of transcripts upstream of the gene.


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