BackgroundInorganic phosphate (Pi) is a critical nutrient for all life and is periodically limiting in marine and freshwater provinces, yet little is understood how organisms acclimate to fluctuations in Pi within their environment. To investigate whole cell adaptation, we grew Synechocystis sp. PCC6803, a model freshwater cyanobacterium, in 3%, and 0.3% inorganic phosphate (Pi) media. The cells were allowed to acclimate over 60 days, and cells were harvested for quantitative high throughput mass spectrometry-based proteomics using the iTRAQ™ labelling technology. ResultsIn total, 120 proteins were identified, and 52 proteins were considered differentially abundant compared to the control. Alkaline phosphatase (APase) activities correlated significantly (p <0.05) with observed relative PhoA abundances. PstS1 and PstS2 were both observed, yet PstS1 was not differentially more abundant than the control. Phycobilisome protein abundances appeared to be coordinated, and are significantly less abundant in 0.3% Pi than 3% Pi cultures. Also, the central metabolic cell function appears to have shifted towards the production of (NADPH) reducing energy and nucleotide sugars. ConclusionsThis acclimation response bears strong similarity to the previously reported response to nitrogen deprivation within Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. However, it also demonstrates some characteristics of desiccation stress, such as the regulation of fatty acids and increased abundance of rehydrin in the 3% Pi culture.