The first complete three-dimensional ultrastructural reconstruction of a cyanobacterium was accomplished with high-voltage electron microscopy and computer-aided assembly of serial sections. The precise arrangement of subcellular features within the cell body was very consistent from one cell to another. Specialized inclusion bodies always occupied specific intracellular locations. The photosynthetic thylakoid membranes entirely surrounded the central portion of the cytoplasm, thereby compartmentalizing it from the rest of the cell. The thylakoid membranes formed an interconnecting network of concentric shells, merging only at the inner surface of the cytoplasmic membrane. The thylakoids were in contact with the cytoplasmic membrane at several locations, apparently to maintain the overall configuration of the thylakoid system. These results clarified several unresolved issues regarding structure-function relationships in cyanobacteria.

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