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Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green bacteria, blue-green algae, and Cyanophyta, is a phylum of bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis. The name "cyanobacteria" comes from the color of the bacteria (Greek: κυαν?ς (kyanós) = blue).
Cyanobacteria have been one of the richest aquatic or marine natural sources of new clinical candidates and lead compounds for the treatment of cancer, and several of these exert their activity through modulation of microfilament polymerization processes.
Cyanobacteria can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat: in oceans, fresh water - even bare rock and soil. They can occur as planktonic cells or form phototrophic biofilms in fresh water and marine environments, they occur in damp soil, or even on temporarily moistened rocks in deserts. A few are endosymbionts in lichens, plants, various protists, or sponges and provide energy for the host. Some live in the fur of sloths, providing a form of camouflage.
Some of these organisms contribute significantly to global ecology and the oxygen cycle. The tiny marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus was discovered in 1986 and accounts for more than half of the photosynthesis of the open ocean. Many cyanobacteria even display the circadian rhythms that were once thought to exist only in eukaryotic cells.
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Author: David Patterson, Linda Amaral Zettler and Virginia Edgcomb
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