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Biochemistry and Physiology of Anaerobic Bacteria

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Lars G. Ljungdahl Michael W. Adams Larry L. Barton James G. Ferry Michael K. Johnson Editors

Biochemistry and Physiology of Anaerobic Bacteria With 71 Illustrations


Lars G. Ljungdahl Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602 USA [emailprotected]

Michael W. Adams Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602 USA [emailprotected]

Larry L. Barton Department of Biology University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA [emailprotected]

James G. Ferry Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16801 USA [emailprotected]

Michael K. Johnson Department of Chemistry Center for Metalloenzyme Studies University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602 USA [emailprotected]

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Biochemistry and physiology of anaerobic bacteria / editors, Lars G. Ljungdahl . . . [et al.]. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-387-95592-5 (alk. paper) 1. Anaerobic bacteria. I. Ljungdahl, Lars G. QR89.5 .B55 2003 579.3¢149—dc21 2002036546 ISBN 0-387-95592-5

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To the memory of Harry D. Peck, Jr. (1927–1998) professor, founder, and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Georgia and pioneer in studies of sulfate-reducing bacteria and hydrogenases.


During the last thirty years, there have been tremendous advances within all realms of microbiology. The most obvious are those resulting from studies using genetic and molecular biological methods. The sequencing of whole genomes of a number of microorganisms having different physiologic properties has demonstrated their enormous diversity and the fact that many species have metabolic abilities previously not recognized. Sequences have also confirmed the division of prokaryotes into the domains of Archaea and bacteria. Terms such as hyper- or extreme thermopiles, thermophilic alkaliphiles, acidophiles, and anaerobic fungi are now used throughout the microbial community. With these discoveries has come a new realization about the physiological and metabolic properties of microoganisms. This, in turn, has demonstrated their importance for the development, maintenance, and sustenance of all life on Earth. Recent estimates indicate that the amount of prokaryotic biomass on Earth equals— and perhaps exceeds—that of plant biomass. The rate of uptake of carbon by prokaryotic microorganisms has also been calculated to be similar to that of uptake of carbon by plants. It is clear that microorganisms play extremely important and typically dominant roles in recycling and sequestering of carbon and many other elements, including metals. Many of the advances within microbiology involve anaerobes. They have metabolic pathways only recently elucidated that enable them to use carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide as the sole carbon source. Thus they are able to grow autotrophically. These pathways differ from that of the classical Calvin Cycle discovered in plants in the mid-1900s in that they lead to the formation of acetyl-CoA, rather than phosphoglycerate. The new pathways are prominent in several types of anaerobes, including methanogens, acetogens, and sulfur reducers. It has been postulated that approximately twenty percent of the annual circulation of carbon on the Earth is by anaerobic processes. That anaerobes carry out autotrophic type carbon dioxide fixation prompted studies of the mechanisms by which they conserve energy and generate ATP. It is now clear that the pathways of autotrophic carbon dioxide fixation involve hydrogen metabolism and that they are coupled to vii



electron transport and generation of ATP by chemiosmosis. Enzymes catalyzing the metabolism of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and other materials for building cell material and for electron transport are now intensely studied in anaerobes. Almost without exception, these enzymes depend on metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, tungsten, and selenium. This pertains also to electron carrying proteins like cytochromes, several types of iron-sulfur and flavoproteins. Much present knowledge of electron transport and phosphorylation in anaerobic microoganisms has been obtained from studies of sulfate reducers. More recent investigations with methanogens and acetogens corroborate the findings obtained with the sulfate reducers, but they also demonstrate the diversity of mechanisms and pathways involved. This book stresses the importance of anaerobic microorganisms in nature and relates their wonderful and interesting metabolic properties to the fascinating enzymes that are involved. The first two chapters by H. Gest and H.G. Schlegel, respectively, review the recycling of elements and the diversity of energy resources by anaerobes. As mentioned above, hydrogen metabolism plays essential roles in many anaerobes, and there are several types of hydrogenase, the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the oxidation and production of this gas. Some contain nickel at their catalytic sites, in addition to iron-sulfur clusters, while others contain only iron-sulfur clusters. They also vary in the types of compounds that they use as electron carriers. The mechanism of activation of hydrogen by enzymes is discussed by Simon P.J. Albracht, and the activation of a purified hydrogenase from Desulfovibrio vulgaris and its catalytic center by B. Hanh Huynh, P. Tavares, A.S. Pereira, I. Moura, and J.G. Moura. The biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters, which are so prominent in most hydrogenases, formate and carbon monoxide dehydrogenases, nitrogenases, many other reductases, and several types of electron carrying proteins, is explored by J.N. Agar, D.R. Dean, and M.K. Johnson. R.J. Maier, J. Olson, and N. Mehta write about genes and proteins involved in the expression of nickel dependent hydrogenases. Genes and the genetic manipulations of Desulfovibrio are examined by J.D. Wall and her research associates. In Chapter 8, G. Voordouw discusses the function and assembly of electron transport complexes in Desulfovibrio vulgaris. In the next chapter Richard Cammack and his colleagues introduce eukaryotic anaerobes, including anaerobic fungi and their energy metabolism. They explore the role of the hydrogenosome, which in the eukaryotic anaerobes replaces the mitochondrion. A rather new aspect related to anerobic microorganisms is the observation that they exhibit some degree of tolerance toward oxygen. They typically lack the known oxygen stress enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase, but they contain novel iron-containing protein including hemerythrin-like proteins, desulfoferrodoxin, rubrerythrin, new types of rubredoxins, and a new enzyme termed superoxide reductase. D.M. Kurtz, Jr., discuses in Chapter 10 these proteins and proposes that they function in the defense toward oxygen stress in anaerobes



and microaerophiles. Over six million tons of methane is produced biologically each year, most of it from acetate, by methanogenic anaerobes. J.G. Ferry describes in Chapter 11 that reactions include the activation of acetate to acetyl-CoA, which is cleaved by acetyl-CoA synthase. The methyl group is subsequently reduced to methane, and the carbonyl group is oxidized to carbon dioxide. The pathway is similar but reverse of that of acetyl-CoA synthesis by acetogens, but it involves cofactors unique to the methaneproducing Archaea. Selenium has been found in several enzymes from anaerobes including species of clostridia, acetogens, and methanogens. In Chapter 12, W.T. Self has summarized properties of selenoenzymes, that are divided into three groups. The first constitutes amino acid reductases that utilize glycine, sarcosine, betaine, and proline. In these and also in the second group, which includes formate dehydrogenases, selenium is present as selenocysteine. Selenocysteine is incorporated into the polypeptide chain via a special seryl-tRNA and selenophosphate. The third group of selenoenzymes is selenium-molybdenum hydroxylases found in purinolytic clostridia. The nature of the selenium in this group has yet to be determined. Chapters 13 and 14 deal with acetogens, which produce anaerobically a trillion kilograms of acetate each year by carbon dioxide fixation via the acetylCoA pathway. H.L. Drake and K. Küsel highlight the diversity of acetogens and their ecological roles. A. Das and L.G. Ljungdahl discuss evidence that the acetyl-CoA pathway of carbon dioxide fixation is coupled with electron transport and ATP generation. In addition, they present some data showing how acetogens can deal with oxydative stress. In Chapter 15, D.P. Kelly discusses the biochemical features common to both anaerobic sulfate reducing bacteria and aerobic thiosulfate oxidizing thiobacilli. His chapter is also a tribute to Harry Peck. The last three chapters are devoted to the reduction by anaerobic bacteria of metals, metalloids and nonessential elements. L.L. Barton, R.M. Plunkett, and B.M. Thomson in their review point out the geochemical importance these reductions, which involve both metal cations and metal anions. J. Wiegel, J. Hanel, and K. Aygen describe the isolation of recently discovered chemolithoautotrophic thermophilic iron(III)-reducers from geothermally heated sediments and water samples of hot springs. They propose that these bacteria are ancient and were involved in formation of iron deposits during the Precambrian era. The last chapter is a discussion of electron flow in ferrous bioconversion by E.J. Laishley and R.D. Bryant. They visualize a model for biocorrosion by sulfate-reducing bacteria that involves both iron and nickel-iron hydrogenases, high molecular cytochrome, and electron transport using sulfate as an acceptor. Lars G. Ljungdahl Michael W. Adams Larry L. Barton James G. Ferry Michael K. Johnson


Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Howard Gest

vii xiii



The Diversity of Energy Sources of Microorganisms . . . . . . . Hans Günter Schlegel



Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Simon P.J. Albracht



Reductive Activation of Aerobically Purified Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hydrogenase: Mössbauer Characterization of the Catalytic H Cluster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boi Hanh Huynh, Pedro Tavares, Alice S. Pereira, Isabel Moura, and José J.G. Moura


Iron-Sulfur Cluster Biosynthesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeffrey N. Agar, Dennis R. Dean, and Michael K. Johnson


Genes and Proteins Involved in Nickel-Dependent Hydrogenase Expression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R.J. Maier, J. Olson, and N. Mehta


Genes and Genetic Manipulations of Desulfovibrio . . . . . . . . Judy D. Wall, Christopher L. Hemme, Barbara Rapp-Giles, Joseph A. Ringbauer, Jr., Laurence Casalot, and Tara Giblin









Function and Assembly of Electron-Transport Complexes in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gerrit Voordouw



Iron-Sulfur Proteins in Anaerobic Eukaryotes . . . . . . . . . . . . Richard Cammack, David S. Horner, Mark van der Giezen, Jaroslav Kulda, and David Lloyd



Oxygen and Anaerobes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Donald M. Kurtz, Jr.



One-Carbon Metabolism in Methanogenic Anaerobes . . . . . . James G. Ferry



Selenium-Dependent Enzymes from Clostridia . . . . . . . . . . . William T. Self



How the Diverse Physiologic Potentials of Acetogens Determine Their In Situ Realities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harold L. Drake and Kirsten Küsel



Electron-Transport System in Acetogens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amaresh Das and Lars G. Ljungdahl



Microbial Inorganic Sulfur Oxidation: The APS Pathway . . . . Donovan P. Kelly



Reduction of Metals and Nonessential Elements by Anaerobes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Larry L. Barton, Richard M. Plunkett, and Bruce M. Thomson



Chemolithoautotrophic Thermophilic Iron(III)-Reducer . . . . Juergen Wiegel, Justin Hanel, and Kaya Aygen



Electron Flow in Ferrous Biocorrosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E.J. Laishley and R.D. Bryant


Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Jeffrey N. Agar Department of Chemistry, Center for Metalloenzyme Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Simon P.J. Albracht Department of Biochemistry, E.C. Slater Institute, University of Amsterdam, NL-1018 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands Kaya Aygen Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Larry L. Barton Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA R.D. Bryant Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N lN4, Canada Richard Cammack Division of Life Sciences, King’s College, London SE1 9NN, UK Laurence Casalot Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA Amaresh Das Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA xiii



Dennis R. Dean Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Institute of Technology, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA Harold L. Drake Department of Ecological Microbiology, BITOEK, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany James G. Ferry Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16801, USA Howard Gest Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Biology, Photosynthetic Bacteria Group, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA Tara Giblin 28024 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, CA 92692, USA Justin Hanel Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Boi Hanh Huynh Department of Physics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 20322, USA Christopher L. Hemme Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA David S. Horner Department of Zoology, Molecular Biology Unit, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK. Current address: Department of Physiology and General Biochemistry, University of Milan, 20133 Milan, Italy Michael K. Johnson Department of Chemistry, Center for Metalloenzyme Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Donovan P. Kelly Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK



Jaroslav Kulda Department of Parasitology, Charles University, 128 44 Prague 2, Czech Republic Donald M. Kurtz, Jr. Department of Chemistry, Center for Metalloenzyme Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Kirsten Küsel Department of Ecological Microbiology, BITOEK, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany E.J. Laishley Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada Lars G. Ljungdahl Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA David Lloyd School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales, Cardiff CF1 3TL, UK R.J. Maier Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA N. Mehta Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Isabel Moura Departamento de Químíca e Centro de Químíca Fina e Biotecnologia, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2825-114 Caparica, Portugal José J.G. Moura Departamento de Químíca e Centro de Químíca Fina e Biotecnologia, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2825-114 Caparica, Portugal J. Olson Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA



Alice S. Pereira Departamento de Químíca e Centro de Químíca Fina e Biotecnologia, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2825-114 Caparica, Portugal Richard M. Plunkett Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA Barbara Rapp-Giles Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA Joseph A. Ringbauer, Jr. Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA Hans Günter Schlegel Institut für Mikrobiologie der Georg-August-Universität, 37077 Göttingen, Germany William T. Self Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Pedro Tavares Departamento de Químíca e Centro de Químíca Fina e Biotecnologia, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2825-114 Caparica, Portugal Bruce M. Thomson Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA Mark van der Giezen Department of Zoology, Molecular Biology Unit, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK. Current address: School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW2O OEX, UK Gerrit Voordouw Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N lN4, Canada



Judy D. Wall Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA Juergen Wiegel Department of Microbiology, Center for Biological Resource Recovery, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

1 Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere Howard Gest

Microorganisms are responsible for the natural recycling of a number of chemical elements in the biosphere. The recycling obviously occurs on a massive scale and is particularly important in regard to nitrogen, carbon, sulfur, oxygen, and hydrogen. These elements are used, in one form or another, in the biosynthetic and bioenergetic processes of both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms. Global cyclic transformations of the elements requires the participation of various kinds of organisms, primarily bacteria, and each “metabolic type” specializes in catalysis of a specific portion of the overall cycle. An example in point is the anaerobic reduction of sulfate to sulfide. Anaerobes are found in environments where dioxygen has been displaced by gaseous products of anaerobic metabolism, such as CH4, CO2, hydrogen, and H2S. Despite sensitivity to oxygen, anaerobic bacteria also persist in circ*mstances usually thought to be aerobic in character. Thus they commonly occur in microenvironments where oxygen is constantly removed by the respiration of aerobes, as in small soil particles. Stephenson (1947) pointed out that the number and variety of chemical reactions known to be catalyzed by bacteria far exceeded those attributable to other living organisms. Moreover, she noted, “Amongst heterotrophs it is as anaerobes that bacteria specially excel. . . . It is in the use of hydrogen acceptors that bacteria are specially developed as compared with animals and plants.” This is another way of saying that anaerobes are redox specialists, which have special systems for oxidizing energy-rich substrates without recourse to molecular oxygen.

Who First Observed Anaerobic Life? The conventional wisdom is that the first observation of anaerobic microbial life was made by Louis Pasteur. In fact, Pasteur rediscovered the anaerobic lifestyle. The first person actually to see anaerobic microorganisms was Antony van Leeuwenhoek, who did a remarkable experiment in 1680, 1


H. Gest Figure 1.1. Diagram illustrating Leeuwenhoek’s pepper tube experiment. (From Leeuwenhoek’s letter no. 32 to the Royal Society of London, June 14, 1680.)

described in detail in one of his famous letters to the Royal Society of London (Dobell 1960). Leeuwenhoek used two identical glass tubes, each filled about halfway with crushed pepper powder (to line BK in Fig. 1.1). As shown in Figure 1.1, clean rain water was added to line CI. Using a flame, he sealed one of the tubes at point G; the aperture of the other tube was left open. Leeuwenhoek said [see Dobell 1960, pp. 197–198]. that, after several days, “I took a little water out of the second glass, through the small opening at G; and I discovered in it a great many very little animalcules, of divers sort having its own particular motion.” After 5 days, he opened the sealed tube in which some pressure had developed, forcing liquid out. He expected not to see “living creatures in this water.” But, in fact, he observed “a kind of living animalcules that were round and bigger than the biggest sort that I have said were in the other water.” Clearly, in the sealed tube, the conditions had become quite anaerobic owing to consumption of oxygen by aerobes. In 1913, the great microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck repeated Leeuwenhoek’s experiment exactly and identified Clostridium butyricum as a prominent organism in the sealed pepper infusion tube fluid. Beijerinck (1913) commented:

1. Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere


We thus come to the remarkable conclusion that, beyond doubt, Leeuwenhoek in his experiment with the fully closed tube had cultivated and seen genuine anaerobic bacteria, which would happen again only after 200 years, namely, about 1862 by Pasteur. That Leeuwenhoek, one hundred years before the discovery of oxygen and the composition of air, was not aware of the meaning of his observations is understandable. But the fact that in the closed tube he observed an increased gas pressure caused by fermentative bacteria and in addition saw the bacteria, prove in any case that he not only was a good observer, but also was able to design an experiment from which a conclusion could be drawn.

Two Important Element Cycles The Nitrogen Cycle The most noteworthy multistage element cycles in which bacteria play important roles are the nitrogen and sulfur redox cycles. The fixation of nitrogen is a reductive process that provides organisms with nitrogen in a form usable for the synthesis of amino acids, nucleic acids, and other cell constituents. In essence, the overall conversion to the key intermediate, ammonia, can be represented as: N 2 + 8H Æ 2 NH3 + H 2


This way of summarizing nitrogen fixation implies that all nitrogenases have the capacity to produce hydrogen under certain conditions.The nitrogenasecatalyzed production of hydrogen is a major physiologic process in the metabolism of photosynthetic bacteria during anaerobic phototrophic growth, when ammonia and nitrogen are absent and cells depend on certain amino acids as nitrogen sources (see later). Table 1.1 lists free-living anaerobic bacteria that fix nitrogen and have been used for experimental studies during recent decades. Note that the list

Table 1.1. Free-living nitrogen-fixing anaerobes. Chemoorganotrophs Clostridium spp. Desulfotomaculum Desulfovibrio



Chromatium Chlorobium Heliobacillus Heliobacterium Heliophilum Rhodobacter Rhodomicrobium Rhodopila Rhodopseudomonas Rhodospirillum Thiocapsa

Methanococcus Methanosarcina

Source: Madigan and co-workers (2000).


H. Gest

includes methanogens, anaerobes that are of special interest in the carbon cycle. Methanogens produce CH4 primarily by reducing CO2 with hydrogen, and this process is clearly of huge magnitude in the biosphere (Ehhalt 1976). It occurs copiously in lake sediments, swamps, marshes, and paddy fields. The methanogens are also abundant in the anaerobic digestion chambers of many ruminant animals and termites (Madigan, et al. 2000). Nitrogen in organic combination in living organisms is recycled to inorganic nitrogen after their death through the activities of various microorganisms. In brief, organic nitrogen is converted to ammonia (ammonification), which is then nitrified in two successive aerobic stages: (1) oxidation of ammonia to nitrite by Nitrosomonas and (2) oxidation of nitrite to nitrate by Nitrobacter. Completion of the cycle requires anaerobic reduction of nitrate to nitrogen, referred to as denitrification. The latter is accomplished mainly by bacteria capable of growing either as aerobes or anaerobes, typically species in the genera Pseudomonas, Paracoccus, and Bacillus. Historically, such metabolic types have been referred to by clumsy terms such as facultative aerobe and facultative anaerobe. A more sensible term is amphiaerobe, meaning “on both sides of oxygen.” Amphiaerobe is defined as an organism that can use either oxygen (like an aerobe) or, as an alternative, some other energy-conversion process that is independent of oxygen (Chapman and Gest 1983).

The Sulfur Cycle Anaerobes are particularly prominent in the cyclic interconversions of inorganic sulfur compounds. Reduction of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide by species of Desulfovibrio and Desulfobacter is of widespread occurrence and of economic significance, because of the corrosive properties of H2S. The sulfide is also produced from S0 by related organisms of the genus Desulfuromonas. Beijerinck was the first to establish that sulfide in the biosphere is produced mainly by bacterial reduction of sulfate. In 1894, he and his assistant, van Delden, isolated and described Spirillum desulfuricans, later renamed Desulfovibrio desulfuricans, providing the first pure cultures of a sulfate reducer. Unculturable, a favorite word of some contemporary molecular biologists, was not in Beijerinck’s vocabulary (see later). Anaerobic recycling of sulfide to sulfate (H2SÆS0ÆSO42-) is a specialty of anoxygenic purple and green photosynthetic bacteria (Chromatium, Chlorobium, etc.) that can use sulfide as an electron donor for CO2 reduction. The coordinated cross-feeding of the sulfate reducers and the sulfideusing photosynthetic bacteria frequently results in massive blooms of Chromatium spp. For example, this is commonly seen on shores of the Baltic Sea when sea grass and other plants become covered by drifting sand. Decomposition of the organic matter is coupled with bacterial sulfate reduction, yielding large quantities of H2S; the conditions become ideal for growth of purple photosynthetic bacteria.

1. Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere


By interesting coincidence, the old dogma that cytochromes are not present in anaerobes was demolished by discovery, at about the same time, of c-type cytochromes in Desulfovibrio and anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria (Kamen and Vernon 1955).

The Meaning of Diversity During the last two decades of the twentieth century, biodiversity became a focus of discussion by many biologists and environmentalists. Inevitably, this led to more interest in the diversity of microorganisms. Unfortunately, the word diversity can have several meanings, and the one in mind is frequently not specified. Molecular biologists interested in evolution have championed differences in 16S RNA sequences as the primary indicators of the diversity of genera and species of prokaryotes. This has led to the view that “molecular phylogenetic techniques have provided methods for characterizing natural microbial communities without the need to cultivate organisms” (Hugenholtz and Pace 1996). Moreover, it has been said that “the types and numbers of organisms in natural communities can be surveyed by sequencing rRNA genes obtained from DNA isolated directly from cells in their ordinary environments. Analyzing microbial communities in this way is more than a taxonomic exercise because the sequences can be used to develop insights about organisms” (Pace 1996). Pace also made the assertion that the use of sequences allows us to infer properties of uncultivated organisms and “survey biodiversity rapidly and comprehensively.” Associated with such claims, the myth of unculturability of most prokaryotes has been promoted by statements such as “only a small fraction of less than 1% of the cells observed by microscopy (i.e., in natural sources) can be recovered as colonies on standard laboratory media” (Amann 2000). Applying this vague criterion is obviously misleading. How many wellknown organisms—anaerobes, autotrophs, nutritionally fastidious bacteria, etc.—described in Bergey’s Manual will grow in so-called standard media? Obviously, very few. Casual acceptance of some molecular biologist’s views has led ecologist Wilson (1999) to some further, essentially unverifiable, extrapolations: How many species of bacteria are there in the world? Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, the official guide updated to 1989, lists about 4000. There has always been a feeling among microbiologists that the true number, including the undiagnosed species, is much greater, but no one could even guess by how much. Ten times more? A hundred? Recent research suggests that the answer might be at least a thousand times greater, with the total number ranging into the millions.

Some remarks by Amann (2000) are relevant to the question of the number of bacterial species extant:


H. Gest

Another methodological artifact are chimeric sequences which can be formed during PCR amplification of mixed template at a frequency of several percent. . . . The assumption that each rRNA sequence is equivalent to a species is as shaky as the still wide spread assumption that from the frequency of an rRNA clone in a library the relative abundance of the respective organism in the environment can be estimated.

For those who are impatient, I note Amann’s estimate that “If there are just [emphasis added] one million species that ultimately can be cultured and if their complete taxonomic description proceeds at a rate of 1,000 species/year it would take roughly the next millenium to get a fairly complete overview on microbial diversity.” My own experience tells me that if there are, say, 50,000 truly distinctive bacterial species still unknown, their isolation and characterization will be a long time in coming. Our understanding of the roles of bacteria in the cycles of nature is based on characterization of the biochemical activities of isolated species of anaerobes and aerobes—in other words, on phenotypic patterns, which define biochemical diversity or, one might say, metabolic diversity. There is, of course, no way that biochemical diversity can be reconstructed simply by processing information contained in rRNA genes. A detailed analysis of the meaning of diversity in the prokaryotic world was provided by Palleroni (1997), and his conclusions are worthy of attention: Modern approaches based on the use of molecular techniques presumed to circumvent the need for culturing prokaryotes, fail to provide sufficient and reliable information for estimation of prokaryote diversity. Many properties that make these organisms important members of the living world are amenable to observation only through the study of living cultures. Since current culture techniques do not always satisfy the need of providing a balanced picture of the microflora composition, future developments in the study of bacterial diversity should include improvements in the culture methods to approach as closely as possible the conditions of natural habitats. Molecular methods of microflora analysis have an important role as guides for the isolation of new prokaryotic taxa.

Since the 1980s, there has been a great escalation of research on prokaryotes; but, as far as I can tell, our knowledge of the principal reactions in the element cycles of nature has not changed appreciably. No doubt there are still unknown ancillary chemical cycles catalyzed by bacteria. One likely possibility is indicated by a recent report that a lithoautotrophic bacterium isolated from a marine sediment can obtain energy for anaerobic growth by oxidation of phosphite(P+3) to phosphate(P+5) while simultaneously reducing sulfate to H2S (Schink and Friedrich, 2000). Evidently, establishment of such cycles will require the time-honored approach of isolation and characterization of pure cultures or well-defined consortia. We can expect that as new details emerge, we will learn that anaerobes are as biochemically diverse as other kinds of prokaryotes, perhaps more so. Another example in point is given by the description of new genera of sulfate reduc-

1. Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere


ers isolated from permanently cold Arctic marine sediments. Isolates of the new genera Desulfofrigus, Desulfofaba, and Desulfotalea grew at the in situ temperature of -1.7°C (Knoblauch et al. 1999).

The Historical Role of Anaerobes on Earth More than 50 years of geochemical research has established that the atmosphere of the early Earth was essentally anaerobic. It is estimated that 2 billion years before the present, there was still virtually no molecular oxygen in the atmosphere. Since fossils of microorganisms ~3.5 billion years old have been found, it follows that for ~1.5 billion years the Earth must have been populated by anaerobic prokaryotes. It is reasonable to believe that anaerobic green and purple photosynthetic bacteria were the precursors of the first organisms capable of oxygenic photosynthesis, the cyanobacteria. When oxygen began to accumulate in the biosphere, anaerobes presumably faced a crisis of oxygen toxicity. Undoubtedly, many anaerobes died while others retreated to anaerobic locales, where we find their descendents today. Still others apparently evolved protective devices, such as superoxide dismutase or the rudiments of oxygen respiration. Another mechanism for avoiding oxygen toxicity, recently discovered in the hyperthermophilic anaerobe Pyrococcus furiosus, depends on the enzyme superoxide reductase, which reduces superoxide to H2O2; the latter is then reduced to water by peroxidases (Jenney et al. 1999). Connected with the kinetics of oxygen evolution in the early atmosphere is the question of the origin of sulfate, required by the anaerobic sulfate reducers. Did the latter organisms evolve only after oxygen accumulation led to oxidation of reduced sulfur to sulfate? This notion was challenged by Peck (1974), who concluded: Sulfate reducing bacteria were not antecedents of photosynthetic bacteria, but rather evolved from ancestral types which were photosynthetic bacteria. Although initially surprising, this evolutionary relationship is consistent with the idea that the accumulation of sulfate, the obligatory terminal electron acceptor for the sulfate reducing bacteria, was the result of bacterial photosynthesis.

As noted earlier, sulfate is generated when sulfide is the electron donor for anaerobic growth of purple and green photosynthetic bacteria. We still have only foggy notions of early prokaryotic evolution. If anything, the picture has recently become more obscure because new evidence indicating extensive “horizontal” gene transfer among bacterial species casts doubt on current prokaryotic phylogenetic trees that branch from a main trunk, as in an actual tree. With this in mind, Doolittle (2000) proposed a more complex pattern of interconnecting prokaryotic evolutionary lines that strikes me as resembling the ramifications of a dollop of spaghetti.


H. Gest

Molecular Hydrogen: Electron Currency in Anaerobic Metabolism Molecular hydrogen is encountered in the metabolic patterns of a variety of prokaryotes, either as an electron donor or as an end product (Gest 1954). The ability to produce hydrogen by reduction of protons with metabolic electrons was probably an ancient mechanism for achieving redox balance in energy-yielding bacterial fermentations. Gray and Gest (1965) referred to hydrogenase as a “delicate control valve for regulating electron flow” and concluded that “the hydrogen-evolving system of strict anaerobes represents a primitive form of cytochrome oxidase, which in aerobes effects the terminal step of respiration, namely, the disposal of electrons by combination with molecular oxygen.” The nitrogenase-catalyzed energy-dependent production of hydrogen by photosynthetic bacteria noted earlier appears to represent another kind of regulatory function. When the bacteria grow on organic acids (e.g., malate), using certain amino acids (e.g., glutamate) as nitrogen sources, nitrogenase is derepressed and functions as a hydrogen-evolving catalyst. Under such conditions, the supplies of ATP produced by photophosphorylation and of electrons generated from organic substrates evidently are in excess relative to the demands of the biosynthetic machinery. Nitrogenase then performs as a “hydrogenase safety valve,” catalyzing hydrogen formation by energydependent reduction of protons. If molecular nitrogen becomes available, hyrogen evolution stops because ATP and the electron supply are used for production of ammonia, which is rapidly consumed for synthesis of amino acids and other nitrogenous compounds. Thus light-dependent hydrogen formation via nitrogenase has been interpreted to reflect “energy idling” when this is required for integration of energy conversion and biosynthetic metabolism (Gest 1972; Hillmer and Gest 1977; Gest 1999). Of interest in connection with the several functions of nitrogenase, is the suggestion of Broda and Peschek (1980) that nitrogenase evolved from an early ATPrequiring hydrogenase “that supported fermentations by ensuring the release of H2.”

Conclusion It is likely that comparative structural and other studies of hydrogenases and nitrogenases will eventually illuminate events in the early evolution of energy-yielding mechanisms. We are indebted to the anaerobes for their necessary roles as recycling agents in Earth’s element cycles. Acknowledgments. My research on photosynthetic bacteria is supported by National Institutes of Health grant GM 58050. I also thank Dr. Hans van

1. Anaerobes in the Recycling of Elements in the Biosphere


Gemerden, University of Groningen (Netherlands) for translation of Beijerinck’s 1913 paper, written in Dutch.

References Amann R. 2000. Who is out there? Microbial aspects of biodiversity. Syst Appl Microbiol 23:1–8. Beijerinck MW. 1913. De infusies en de ontdekking der bakteriën Jaarb Kon Akad Wetensch 1913, p 1–28 Broda E, Peschek GA. 1980. Evolutionary considerations on the thermodynamics of nitrogen fixation. Biosystems 13:47–56. Chapman DJ, Gest H. 1983. Terms used to describe biological energy conversions, interactions of cellular systems with molecular oxygen, and carbon nutrition. In: Schopf JW, editor. Earth’s earliest biosphere; its origin and evolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; p 459–63. Dobell C. 1960. Antony van Leeuwenhoek and his “little animals.” New York: Dover; pp. 197–8. Doolittle WF. 2000. Uprooting the tree of life. Sci Am 282:90–5. Ehhalt DH. 1976. The atmospheric cycle of methane. In: Schlegel HG, Gottschalk G, Pfennig N, editors. Microbial prodution and utilization of gases. Göttingen, Germany: Goltze; p 13–22. Gest H. 1954. Oxidation and evolution of molecular hydrogen by microorganisms. Bact Rev 18:43–73. Gest H. 1972. Energy conversion and generation of reducing power in bacterial photosynthesis. Adv Microb Physiol 7: 243–82. Gest H. 1999. Bioenergetic and metabolic process patterns in anoxyphototrophs. In: Peschek GA, Löffelhardt W, Scmetterer G, editors. The phototrophic prokaryotes. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum. P 11–9. Gray CT, Gest H. 1965. Biological formation of molecular hydrogen. Science 148:186–92. Hillmer P, Gest H. 1977. H2 metabolism in the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas capsulata: H2 production by growing cultures. J Bacteriol 129:724–31. Hugenholtz P, Pace NR. 1996. Identifying microbial diversity in the natural environment: a molecular phylogenetic approach. Trends Biotechnol 14:190–7. Jenney FE Jr, Verhagen MFJM, Cui X, Adams MWW. 1999. Anaerobic microbes: oxygen detoxification without superoxide dismutase. Science 286:306–9. Kamen MD, Vernon LP. 1955. Comparative studies on bacterial cytochromes. Biochim Biophys Acta 17:10—22. Knoblauch C, Sahm K, Jorgensen, BB. 1999. Psychrophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria isolated from permanently cold Arctic marine sediments: description of Desulfofrigus oceanense gen. nov., sp. nov., Desulfofrigus fragile sp. nov., Desulfofaba. gelida gen. nov., sp. nov., Desulfotalea psychrophila gen. nov., sp. nov. and Desulfotalea arctica sp. nov. Int J Syst Bacteriol 49:1631–43. Madigan MT, Martinko JM, Parker J. 2000. Biology of microorganisms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Pace NR. 1996. New perspective on the natural microbial world: molecular microbial ecology. ASM News 62:463–70.


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Palleroni NJ. 1997. Prokaryotic diversity and the importance of culturing. Ant V Leeuwenhoek 72:3–19. Peck HD Jr. 1974. The evolutionary significance of inorganic sulfur metabolism. In: Carlile MJ, Skehel JJ, editors. Evolution in the microbial world. 24th symposium of the Society for General Microbiology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P 241–62. Schink B, Friedrich M. 2000. Phosphite oxidation by sulphate reduction. Nature 406:37. Stephenson M. 1947. Some aspects of hydrogen transfer. Ant V Leeuwenhoek J Microbiol Serol 12: 33–48; see p 34. Wilson EO. 1999. The diversity of life. New York: Norton; p 142–143.

2 The Diversity of Energy Sources of Microorganisms Hans Günter Schlegel

This book is occupied with the recent progress that has been achieved in the area of the biochemistry and physiology of anaerobic bacteria. The width of the theme requires special knowledge and survey. To facilitate the survey, I should like to direct a glance on the collateral sciences of microbiology and deal with the question when the knowledge was obtained on which our present research is based. The formulation of the biological questions is old; the answering, however, requires knowledge on the properties of the substances that surround us, that means physics and chemistry. In this short contribution, I pose the question of how the exploration of materials, with which physiology and biochemistry deal, came about. In essence it is a chapter on analytical chemistry and physics as well as on the modes of biological energy conversions.

Toward the Exploration of the Constituents of Living Organisms The fundamentals of knowledge on the composition of materials used by humans were already collected in ancient times. The known methods—such as preparation of bread, wine, beer, vinegar, soap, and cosmetics; tissue staining; and tanning of hides—today belongs to chemical technology. Various methods, like pressing of fatty oils and destillation of etherized oils, were used, too. Seven metals were known: gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, tin, and mercury. Among the acids only acetic acid and among the alkaline compounds only soda and potash were known. Simple chemical operations, such as weighing, filtration, evaporation, crystallization, and destillation were also known. Further exploration with respect to the composition of materials started in the thirteenth century. Three epochs can be differentiated, and all three saw contributions to the understanding of the metabolism of organisms. In the first epoch, the properties of metals were explored. New metals (zinc, arsenic, antimony, and bismuth) were discovered. The specific weights 11


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of some metals were determined, with only 5% deviation. The metals were dissolved in “oleum,” or sulfuric acid. Some metals started to play a role in the medication of diseases. The outstanding representative of the use of metals in medicine, in iatrochemistry, was Paracelsus (1493–1541). Much of the technological knowledge on metals, metallurgy, was summarized by Georg Agricola (1496–1555) in De re metallica (1556) and other books. When the metals were studied, the release of gases and vapors was observed. For example, Paracelsus reported that when iron was dissolved in sulfuric acid “air comes out like a wind.” The differentiation of these kinds of “air” took more than two centuries. Research on the analysis of gases was extremely productive in developing the basic methods to handle and study gases and even paved the way to design techniques for elementary analysis of the constituents of organisms. Thus the study of gases became the second epoch of analytical chemistry; it is called “the pneumatic age.” To keep the time scale in mind, the willow tree experiment performed by Jan Baptist van Helmont (1577–1644) is worth mentioning. Van Helmont was born in Brussels, studied in Leuwen, and spent the major part of his lifetime in the neighborhood of Brussels. He was a chemist, physiologist, and physician. In his own person curious contradictions were combined. He represents the transition from the Scholastic Age to the Age of Enlightenment. On the one hand, he was highly impressed by the Copernican view, by Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood, and by Bacon’s essays; and he was a careful observer and was able to undertake simple experiments. He coined the word gas. He regarded the gases that were formed during wine fermentation and during combustion of charcoal as identical. His scientific observations and experiences were published by his son in 1648 in Amsterdam under the title Ortus medicinae. On page 109 of that work we find the concise description of a great experiment. In English translation it says: But that all plants directly and materially are produced solely from the element of water, I have learnt from this experiment. I took an earthenware pot, placed in it 200 lb of soil dried in an oven, moistened it with rainwater and planted in it a willow shoot weighing 5 lb. Finally, after five years, a tree hat grown and weighed 169 lb and about 3 oz. But the earthenware pot was constantly wet only with rainwater or distilled water, if it was necessary; and it was ample and imbedded in the ground: and to prevent dust from flying around and mixing with the soil, I covered the pot with an iron plate coated with tin and pierced with many holes. I did not add the weight of the fallen leaves of four autumns. Finally, I again dried the soil in the pot, and there were the same 200 lb minus about 2 oz. Therefore, 164 lb of wood, bark, and root had arisen alone from water.

Thus for answering a stinging question van Helmont performed a noteworthy adequate experiment, but he was unable to draw the correct conclusions from it because the prerequisites were lacking. It took more than 150 years of research in chemistry to explore the composition of air and the basic constituents of plants.

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Table 2.1. The pneumatic chemists. Gaseous compound Hydrogen Oxygen Oxygen Nitrogen Ammonia (NH3) HCl Nitrous oxide (N2O) Carbon dioxide (CO2) Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) Methane (CH4) Air analysis


Year of discovery

Henry Cavendish (1731–1810) Carl W. Scheele (1749–1819) Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) David Rutherford (1749–1819) Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley Torbern Bergman (1735–1785) Antoine L. Lavoisier (1743–1794) Carl W. Scheele Alexander Volta (1745–1827) Henry Cavendish

1766 1771 1772 1772 1774 1774 1774 1774 1775 1776 1776 1783

Step by step, the tools used for quantitative determinations were improved (Table 2.1). The balance was known since ancient times. Robert Boyle introduced the pneumatic vessel and Joseph Priestley used mercury as barrier fluid. Stephen Hales invented the gasometer; Henry Cavendish, the eudiometer. The great masters of gas analysis, Cavendish, Priestley, Carl W. Scheele, and Torbern Bergman, worked at almost the same time and some discoveries were made by them independently from the others. Cavendish was the most versatile and successful among them. When he studied the composition of air and measured the content of oxygen and nitrogen he found that about 1% was missing. This difference was due to the noble gases discovered about 100 years later by John William Rayleigh. Cavendish’s research indicated the precision of the methods developed and used by the pneumatic chemists. The work of the pneumatic chemists provided the knowledge of those gases involved in the gas metabolism of microorganisms. Gas analysis prepared the tools for the elementary analysis of natural substances. And it was Scheele who prepared from plants the first organic compounds, such as tartaric acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, gallic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, and glycerol. It is justified to regard him as the founder of organic chemistry. The other great chemist who started the series of discoveries in gas analysis was Antoine Laurent Lavoisier. He understood that combustion depends on the presence of oxygen and thus replaced the phlogiston theory of G.E. Stahl with a new combustion theory. Lavoisier made the first experiments to determine the composition of organic compounds and found carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen as their constituents. Lavoisier’s work and theory were soon accepted, and he is considered to be the first to design the basic methods of the elementary analysis of organic compounds. After his early death, the work was not continued until Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778–1850) and Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1779–1848) and, later, Justus Liebig (1803–1873), Jean Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884), and their


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Table 2.2. Discovery and first elementary analysis of substrates and products of microorganisms. Substance Oxalic acid Acetic acid Succinic acid Tartaric acid Malic acid Benzoic acid Formic acid Glucose Sucrose Mannitol Gallic acid Pyruvic acid Methanol Glycerol Phenol Fumaric acid Propionic acid Glycolic acid Citric acid Catechol Glyoxylic acid Lactic acid Isopropanol Hexadecane Ethanol Lactose Ribose Fructose Isocitric acid Mannose Oxaloacetic acid a-Ketoglutaric acid Deoxyribose

Year of first mention (author) 1776 (Scheele) 1783 (Berthollet) ~1600 1770 (Scheele) 1785 (Scheele) 1780 (Scheele) 1761 (Marggraf) 1792 (Lowitz) 1747 (Marggraf) 1806 (Proust) 1785 (Scheele) 1830 (Berzelius) 1779 (Scheele) 1834 (Runge) 1833 (Winckler) from plants 1784 (Scheele) 1825 (Faraday) 1780 (Scheele)

1796 (Lowitz) 17th century ~1800 in fruits

Year of first analysis (author) 1811 (Gay-Lussac) 1814 (Berzelius) 1815 (Berzelius) 1830 (Berzelius) 1830 (Liebig) 1832 (Wöhler, Liebig) 1832 (Pélouze) 1834 (Liebig) 1834 (Liebig) 1834 (Liebig, Oppermann) 1834 (Pélouze) 1835 (Berzelius) 1835 (Dumas, Péligot) 1836 (Pélouze) 1842 (Laurent) 1843 (J. Pélouze) 1844 (Gottlieb) 1851 (Strecker) 1851 (Rochleder, Willigk) 1851 (Wagner) 1856 (Debus) 1858 (Wurtz) 1862 (Friedel) 1869 (Zincke) 1875 (Gutzeit) 1879 (Demole) 1881 (Fischer, Piloty) 1881 (Jungfleisch, Lefram) 1887 (Fittig) 1888 (Fischer, Hirschberger) 1895 (Michael, Bucher) 1908 (Blaise, Gault) 1927 (Meisenheimer, Jung)

collaborators and students succeeded in the analysis of many compounds (Table 2.2). Liebig completed the methods to determine the carbon and hydrogen content of organic compounds. Table 2.2 shows the most important compounds involved in basic biochemistry. The table was composed by consulting Gmelin’s (1829) handbook and the pertinent original literature and contains the author and year of the original isolation and nomination of some organic compounds, alcohols, and sugars and in addition the author and year of the first publication of the first correct analysis of the composition of the compound. The table indicates that the most important compounds involved in basic metabolism were analyzed by Berzelius, Liebig,

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Pélouze, and Dumas. Knowledge of the compounds enabled the biologists to speculate about the metabolism of plants, animals, and microorganisms on a scientific basis; to use some pure organic compounds for comparison and as substrates; and to design the corresponding experiments. The commercial availability enabled chemists to study the organic compounds more closely. One of the outstanding developments was started with the studies of Eilhard Mitscherlich on isomorphism of crystals, which was continued by Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) on the tartaric acids. The discoveries made early in his scientific career motivated Pasteur to spend his life performing research in the chemistry of microorganisms. By in 1858–1861, he had studied alcoholic fermentation by yeast and the production of lactic, acetic, and butyric acids by bacteria; thus he discovered anaerobic energy conversion by fermentation, “la vie sans l’air.” The methods for elementary analysis allowed researchers to study several fermentations in more detail. There was enough evidence indicating that fermentation and putrefaction occurred under anoxic conditions and that fermentation and putrefaction are different from each other only by the products. As Pasteur was a chemist himself, some chemists and physiologists of the time did not find it below their dignity to study putrefaction and to choose the dirtiest among the anoxic natural ecosystems, sewer sludge (Kloakenschlamm), as a model system. The outstanding pioneer of the analysis of the products of putrefaction was Felix Hoppe-Seyler (1825–1895). He added sugar or organic acids to sewer sludge. For example, formic acid was fermented to carbon dioxide and hydrogen and acetic acid, to carbon dioxide and methane. In the presence of sulfate, acetic acid was converted to carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. With some goodwill we can assign to Hoppe-Seyler the discovery of the anaerobic food chain, in which gaseous hydrogen plays a prominent role. These studies, published in 1876 and 1886, were done with crude cultures. Hoppe-Seyler (1876) concluded: “The number of reductions of organic substances in putritive processes is obviously extraordinary great, . . . the formation of mannitol from galactose or glucose, of propionic acid from lactic acid, and succinic acid from tartaric or malic acids are such . . . reductions.” The products of putrefaction could at this time, however, not yet be attributed to the activities of specific bacteria. The data obtained from studying crude cultures were not as bad as one would assume. For example, the stoichiometric relationships between the consumption of sugar and the production of alcohol and carbon dioxide were determined even before yeast became known as the causative agent of alcoholic fermentation (Gay Lussac 1810). Furthermore, the general equation for the formation of propionic acid was calculated by A. Fitz in Strassburg in 1878 on the basis of studies with crude cultures inoculated with cow excrements: 3 lactate Æ 2 propionate + acetate + CO2 + H 2 O.



H.G. Schlegel

It did not deviate from the values found with pure cultures (Freudenreich and Orla-Jensen 1906; van Niel 1928). The analytical methods allowed the determination of the products of glucose fermentation by Escherichia coli, and the general equation calculated (Harden 1901) does not differ from that accepted today. Harden even correctly deduced that hydrogen arises from formic acid; the Aerobacter modification was recognized by Harden in 1906. Thus the methods for the analysis of fermentation products were completed within the nineteenth century. Physics and chemistry provided further methods useful for investigating and describing bacteria and understanding the biochemical background. Each progress in physics contributed to chemical analysis. The important optical methods of analysis were spectroscopy, spectrography, flame photometry, colorimetry, and spectrophotometry. They helped differentiate among pigments of green plants, phototrophic bacteria, blood, cells, muscle cells, and cytochromes as well as accessory pigments. Little inventions improved the practical work in the laboratory, such as the Bunsen burner (1857) and the water jet pump (1868). Physicochemistry added many principles and methods of determinations, such as hydrogen ion concentration, the pH term, a variety of titration methods, and polarimetry. Chromatography methods, also started in the middle of the nineteenth century, were developed further by Michail Tswett, a botanist, but not introduced as a general analytical tool until 1941 by Martin and Synge. It took a long time to develop the method of electrophoresis on paper or in gels to its present simplicity and routine application.

Toward Understanding Modes of Biological Energy Conversion At least from the time of van Helmont on, the chemists when separating and describing gases usually examined the effect of the gases on animals and plants. Lavoisier (1777) understood that aerobic respiration is the process in which oxygen is consumed and carbon dioxide is produced, shortly after the discovery of oxygen (1771). However, it took about half a century to make aerobic respiration more comprehensible from a physical point of view (Joule 1843; Mayer 1845; and many others). Oxygenic photosynthesis was the second mode of energy conversion whose principles were understood. Experiments showing that oxygen is involved, carbon dioxide is the source of carbon, and light is the energy source was contributed by J. Ingenhouse (1730–1799), J. Senebier (1742– 1809), and T. de Saussure (1767–1845). J.R. Mayer (1814–1878) provided the most comprehensible enlightening explanations. The third mode of energy conversion, fermentation, was discovered by Pasteur. After examining alcoholic fermentation by yeast, he studied several bacterial fermentations, including butyric acid fermentation and its

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causative bacterium Vibrio butyrique, which evidently obtained energy under anoxic conditons. In chronological order, anoxygenic photosynthesis was the fourth mode of energy conversion. Although several species of purple bacteria had been found in nature and their green and red pigments had been described, their dependence on light for growth was not recognized before the photophysiological experiments of Theodor Wilhelm Engelmann (1843–1909) led to the conclusions that purple bacteria are phototrophs (1888). The reason for the absence of oxygen evolution was, however, explained later by H. Molisch (1907), J. Buder (1919), and C.B. van Niel (1931). The fifth mode of energy generation, chemosynthesis or lithotrophy, was discovered by the Russian botanist Sergius N. Winogradsky (1856–1953), when he was working in the laboratory of Anton de Bary (1831–1888) in Strassburg in 1887. Originally, he intented to reevaluate the monomorphism–pleomorphism controversy and chose Beggiatoa as a model organism. He collected the black mud surface of ponds and observed Beggiatoa filaments under the microscope. He saw the filaments accumulate sulfur droplets intracellulary, when he added hydrogen sulfide, and saw the droplets disappear when hydrogen sulfide was absent. He saw the filaments grow and the cells divide. The bacteria seemed to prefer the absence of organic substrates. Thus Winogradsky concluded that Beggiatoa gains metabolic energy from the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide and the accumulated sulfur, a type of respiration with inorganic hydrogen donors that he called inorgoxidation (chemosynthesis, today lithotrophy). From where the inorgoxidizers gain the cellular carbon Winogradsky discovered when studying the nitrifyers (1891). He succeeded in isolating nitrifyers from soil and growing them in a purely mineral medium. By determining the amount of nitrite and nitrate produced from ammonia as well as the cell carbon formed, he showed a constant stoichiometric ratio to exist between the products of ammonia oxidation and assimilation of carbon. His conclusion—that in these bacteria the process of inorgoxidation is linked to autotrophic CO2 fixation—was fully justified. Thus Winogradsky discovered a new mode of living which we call today chemolithoautotrophy. It enables a large metabolic group of bacteria to grow in mineral solutions with inorganic hydrogen donors, such as ammonia, nitrite, sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, thiosulfate, ferrous iron, molecular hydrogen, and carbon monoxide and with carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source. A sixth type of bacterial energy conversion is anaerobic respiration. The reduction of nitrate to nitrogen and N2O had already been shown in the 1880s. The first sulfate-reducing bacterium, the strict anaerobic Spirillum desulfuricans, had been grown in pure culture by M.W. Beijerinck (1851–1931) by 1895 and shown to be able to grow on simple organic acids as hydrogen donors and sulfate as hydrogen acceptors. After the discovery of a cytochrome (C3) by Postgate (1954), the energy-conversion process, earlier called “dissimilatory sulfate reduction,” was renamed sulfate respi-


H.G. Schlegel

ration. “Dissimilatory nitrate reduction” by facultative anaerobic bacteria was renamed nitrate respiration. And later it was discovered that methane formation from CO2 and hydrogen and ferric iron reduction are anaerobic respiration processes, too.

Harry Peck’s Scientific Career Having reviewed the development of the knowledge about the important gases and organic compounds involved in metabolism and about the modes of energy conversion in bacteria that were known in 1950, when Harry Peck had to decide about his way into science, I would like to add a few remarks on his career and a word of thanks. Peck chose microbiology for his bachelors and masters degree work. With Cochrane at Wesleyan University (Connecticut) Peck studied the basic metabolism of Streptomyces coelicolor, using resting cells and cell-free extracts and employing 14C-labeled acetate and glucose, to find out whether the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the pentose phosphate pathway were present in this genus. Then worked with Howard Gest to get his Ph.D. (1955). Gest was familiar with gaseous hydrogen and, with Martin Kamen, had discovered the photoproduction of molecular hydrogen by Rhodospirillum rubrum (done in Washington University, 1949), and had become interested in the formic hydrogen lyase system of E. coli. Thus Peck became familiar with hydrogenases in facultative anaerobic bacteria and clostridia, discovered NAD reduction with hydrogen, encountered the diversity of hydrogenases, worked with resting cells and cell-free extracts, and compared various assays (deuteriumhydrogen exchange included). Peck then became interested in sulfate-reducing bacteria, which he had got to know in Gest’s laboratory. To study the reduction of sulfate, Peck worked in Fritz Lipmann’s laboratory in Massachussetts General Hospital (1956) and with Lipmann at Rockefeller University (1957). Lipmann started work on active sulfate in 1954 with Helmut Hilz as a postdoctoral fellow and studied the activation of sulfate to APS and PAPS. Lipmann had left the active sulfate projects by 1957 and started, at Rockefeller University, the studies on protein synthesis. Peck published one paper on the reduction of sulfate with hydrogen in extracts of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (1959) and one on APS as an intermediate on the oxidation of thiosulfate by Thiobacillus thioparus (1960). In 1958, Peck joined the staff of the enzymology group of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and continued there to work on sulfur metabolism of chemolithoautotrophic bacteria. In 1965, he was called to Athens. Before moving there, he spent a year in the laboratory of Jacques Senez and Jean LeGall. And then he explored the research niche of hydrogenase and sulfur metabolism, which is a gold mine still today, in various directions.

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Acknowledgment. I am very grateful to Harry Peck and Howard Gest for having made me acquainted with their work by sending their reprints to me. In the DDR, where I worked, we did not have access to the American journals published during and after World War II. The first of Peck reprints that I ordered were then accompanied by more, and subsequent publications followed. I also thank Dr. Günther Beer, Chemistry Department, Georg-August-Universtität Göttingen, for help with composing the tables.

Reference Gmelin L. 1829. Handbuch der theoretischen Chemie. 3. Aufl. 2. Band 1. Abtheilung. Frankfurt: F. Varrentrapp.

Suggested Reading Lieben F. 1935. Geschichte der physiologischen Chemie. Leipzig and Wien: Deuticke. Schlegel HG. 1999a. Bacteriology paved the way to cell biology: a historical account. In: Lengeler JW, Drews G, Schlegel HG, editors. Biology of the prokaryotes. Stuttgart: Thieme, Blackwell. Schlegel HG. 1999b. Geschichte der Mikrobiologie. Acta historica Leopoldina 28. Halle/Saale: Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina. Szabadváry F. 1966. Geschichte der analytischen Chemie. Braunschweig: Vieweg und Sohn. Wehefritz V, Kováts Z, editors. 1994. Bibliography on the history of chemistry and chemical technology, 17th to the 19th century. Munich and Paris: Saur.

3 Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation Simon P.J. Albracht

In this report a few recent contributions of my group to some exciting developments in the field of hydrogenases are described. These new findings have added to our understanding of how hydrogenases work. Hydrogenases (reaction: H2 ¤2H+ + 2e-) are found in many microorganisms. They are functional in the anaerobic degradation of organic substrates, enabling an organism to dispose of excess reducing equivalents in the form of hydrogen. Other organisms can use this released hydrogen as electron and energy sources for growth. There are two classes of metal-containing hydrogenases. The [NiFe]hydrogenases have a NiFe(CN)2(CO) group as active site (Fig. 3.1), which is attached to the protein via four Cys thiols. These enzymes are usually involved in the uptake of hydrogen. For the [NiFe]-hydrogenase from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Miyazaki, it has been proposed that one of the two CN ligands is replaced by SO (Higuchi et al. 1997). The [Fe]-hydrogenases, functional in the production of dihydrogen, contain an Fe-Fe site, where the iron atoms are also coordinated by CO, CN, and thiols. Here the direct connection to the protein involves only one Cys residue. The two bridging thiols are not provided by the protein but presumably by a 1,3dithiopropanol molecule (Nicolet et al. 1999, 2000). All the enzymes contain at least one [4Fe-4S] close to the bimetallic site. In [Fe]-hydrogenases this proximal cluster is directly attached to an iron atom (called Fe1) of the Fe-Fe site via a Cys thiol bridge. In [NiFe]-hydrogenases, the conserved proximal cluster is about 12 Å from Ni-Fe site and is located in a different subunit. As discussed later, I assume that the bimetallic site plus the conserved, proximal cluster function as an effective two-electron-accepting unit in nearly all hydrogenases. Most enzymes have additional Fe-S cluster, which will not be discussed here. Some relevant Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectra, which provide essential complementary information for the active-site structures, are shown in Figure 3.1 and are discussed hereafter.


3. Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation


Figure 3.1. Structures and FTIR spectra of the bimetallic sites in metal-containing hydrogenases. A, Active site of the inactive Desulforibrio gigas [NiFe]-hydrogenase (2frv) (Volbeda Garcin, Piras et al. 1996) and FTIR spectrum in the 2150–1800 cm-1 spectral region from the Allochromatium vinosum enzyme in the aerobic, inactive state. B, Fe–Fe site from Clostridium pasteurianum ([Fe]-hydrogenase I crystallized in the presence of 2 mM dithionite (1feh) (Peters et al. 1998) and the FTIR spectrum of the D. vulgaris [Fe]-hydrogenase in the aerobic inactive state. C, Fe–Fe site of the active Desulfovibrio desulfuricans [Fe]-hydrogenase crystallized under 10% hydrogen (1hfe) (Nicolet et al. 1999) and the FTIR spectrum of active D. vulgaris [Fe]-hydrogenase treated with 100% hydrogen. D, Fe–Fe site from the C. pasteurianum enzyme treated with CO (1c4a and 1c4c) (Lemon and Peters 1999) and the FTIR spectrum of active D. vulgaris [Fe]-hydrogenase treated with CO. The pictures were deduced from the Protein Data Bank (PDB) crystal structure files, invoking the information from FTIR studies on the A. vinosum [NiFe]-hydrogenase (Happe et al. 1997; Pierik et al. 1999) and the D. vulgaris Hildenborough [Fe]-hydrogenase (Pierik et al. 1998a).


S.P.J. Albracht

FTIR Spectra and Structure The structure of the active sites in both classes of hydrogenases has emerged only from a combination of the three-dimensional data and the results from FTIR studies on closely related enzymes. An end-on bound CO group to the iron atom in the Ni-Fe site of the D. gigas enzyme could explain the band at 1944 cm-1 (Fig. 3.1A) in the enzyme from A. vinosum (formerly called Chromatium vinosum). The symmetrical and antisymmetrical stretch vibrations from the two CN groups in the latter enzyme (at 2090 and 2079 cm-1, respectively), could explain two of the diatomic ligands in the former enzyme. Likewise, the diatomic ligands in the Fe-Fe sites of the C. pasteurianum and D. desulfuricans enzymes can now be recognized in the FTIR spectra from the D. vulgaris Hildenborough enzyme (Fig. 3.1B–D). The assumption of three CO groups, two end-on ones and one bridging one, in the C. pasteurianum enzyme crystals, prepared under nitrogen in the presence of 2 mM dithionite (Fig. 3.1B), can explain the bands at 2007, 1983, and 1847 cm-1, respectively, in the aerobic inactive D. vulgaris enzyme. The two CN bands (2106 and 2087 cm-1) found in the latter enzyme can explain one of the diatomic ligands on each iron atom in the former enzyme. In the C. pasteurianum enzyme crystals prepared with dithionite under nitrogen an oxygen species is bound to Fe2. This makes each of the iron atoms six coordinate, and so the enzyme may not be active in this state. The FTIR spectrum of the hydrogen-activated D. vulgaris enzyme, subsequently treated with CO, showed two CN bands, three bands from endon bound CO and one from a bridging CO (Fig. 3.1D). Lemon and Peters (1999) determined the structure of the C. pasteurianum enzyme with added CO, which is bound in a light-sensitive way (Bennett et al. 2000). They found that the oxygen species on the Fe2 atom (Fig. 3.1B) was replaced by a diatomic molecule, probably CO (Fig. 3.1D). This fits perfectly with the FTIR spectrum of the CO-inhibited D. vulgaris enzyme. Two end-on bound CO molecules on Fe2 are expected to have a vibrational interaction, whereby the symmetrical and antisymmetrical stretch vibrations can differ considerably in frequency. This probably can explain two of the three bands in the 2050–1950 cm-1 spectral region (Fig. 3.1D). Studies with 13CO will provide further insight into the interpretation of the spectrum. Crystals of the D. desulfuricans [Fe]-hydrogenase prepared under 10% hydrogen (Nicolet et al. 1999) did not show a bridging ligand (Fig. 3.1C). The interpretation of the diatomic ligands was aided by the FTIR spectra of the D. vulgaris enzyme. The latter enzyme did not show a band from a bridging CO when reduced with hydrogen. The FTIR spectrum is, however, difficult to interpret and it is not yet clear what happens to the bridging CO ligand upon reaction of the active site with hydrogen. As the enzymatic reaction involves H2, H+, and electrons and the active sites are deeply buried in the protein, the X-ray crystallographers have

3. Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation


deduced possible pathways for these substrates to enter and leave the enzyme. The Fe-S clusters are no doubt involved in the transfer of electrons to and from the active bimetallic site. One or more hydrophobic channels, leading directly to one of the metal atoms in the bimetallic site, have been found in the protein structures (Montet et al. 1997; Frey 1998; Nicolet et al. 2000). In [NiFe]-hydrogenases, the channel points to the nickel atom. In [Fe]-hydrogenases the channel points to Fe2. Hence, it is likely that these metal atoms are directly involved in hydrogen activation. In the following, several aspects concerning the possible mechanism of action of both classes of hydrogenases are discussed.

Heterolytic Splitting and Hydride Oxidation The splitting of hydrogen is presumably a heterolytic process (Krasna 1979). The conversion of para-H2 to ortho-H2, a reaction apparently not involving any redox reactions, is inhibited in 2H2O. This was interpreted as: E + p-H 2 ´ EH - + Ha +


EH - + H b ´ E + o-H 2

(3.1) (3.2)

In D2O, HD was found instead of o-H2. It is presently assumed that binding of hydrogen to a metal ion in the bimetallic active site weakens the H-H bond sufficiently to enable this reaction. Oxidation of the hydride is expected to be a two-electron process, and hydrogenases should, therefore, contain a redox unit capable of accepting these two electrons simultaneously. I assume here that the bimetallic center plus the conserved proximal Fe-S cluster perform this task.

[NiFe]-Hydrogenases Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies on [NiFe]-hydrogenases indicated that the active site can exist in at least seven different states, four inactive states and three active ones (Albracht 1994). Inspection with FTIR confirmed this (Bagley et al. 1995; De Lacey et al. 1997). The inactive states (called ready and unready) have an extra oxygen species (Van der Zwaan et al. 1990) near to the nickel atom, presumably spaced between the nickel and iron atoms (Volbeda et al. 1995, 1996) (Fig. 3.1A). For the D. vulgaris Miyazaki enzyme, this species has been proposed to be sulfur rather than oxygen (Higuchi et al. 1997). The O/S species blocks the rapid activation of hydrogen. Upon reductive activation, this species leaves the active site, presumably as H2O (or H2S). In this report, only the three active states are considered (Nia-S, Nia-C*, and Nia-SR) (Fig. 3.2). The states are observed in many [NiFe]-hydrogenases, like the ones from D. gigas and A. vinosum;


S.P.J. Albracht

Figure 3.2. Overview of the three states of the active standard [NiFe]-hydrogenase from A. vinosum. The wavelengths indicate the infrared frequencies for the two CN groups and the CO group, respectively. The reactions with hydrogen are fast (thick arrows) or extremely slow (dotted arrow). Protons are not shown. a, active; C, C state; L, light-induced state; R, reduced; S, EPR silent; *, the active site in this state is a S = 1/2 system (detectable by EPR); 4Fe, [4Fe-4S] cluster.

these will be referred to as standard [NiFe]-hydrogenases. As discussed below, there are also [NiFe]-hydrogenases that can adopt only one or two of these states. The activity of active enzyme is usually assayed with artificial electron acceptors or donors (usually dyes). It has been shown that when the A. vinosum enzyme is directly attached to an electrode, its hydrogen-oxidizing activity is much higher than that obtained with dyes (Pershad et al. 1999). Even under 10% hydrogen, the diffusion of hydrogen to the active site was shown to be the rate-limiting step. This means that in normal assays, the reaction with dyes is probably rate limiting. It also indicates that electron transfer and the ejection of H+ by the enzyme are fast processes.

Competition Between Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide It has long been known that carbon monoxide acts as a competitive inhibitor of most hydrogenases. This indicates that CO and hydrogen compete for the same binding site in the enzyme. EPR studies showed that under certain conditions, CO can directly bind to nickel (Van der Zwaan et al. 1986, 1990) in the Nia-C* state. Both, the Nia-C* state and the induced,

3. Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation


EPR-detectable CO state converted to one and the same EPR state, the Nia-L* state, when illuminated at temperatures cyt c3 (from D. desulfuricans Norway) > cyt c3 (from D. gigas) > cyt c3 (from D. vulgaris). As a consequence of three-dimensional structure analysis of several cytochromes, the location of each of the hemes in the cytochrome is known, and for identification purposes, they have been designated as heme I, II, III, or IV. For the reduction of Fe(III) by cyt c3, the first to be reduced is heme IV, which is in an exposed edge of the cytochrome molecule and is surrounded by various positively charged amino acid residues. This feature of metal reduction may also be the case for cyt c7, because it has a heme IV; and although cyt c7 is lacking a heme II moiety, this is not essential for metal reduction. Another feature for metal reduction is the global charge on the cytochrome that can repel the metal ion. The isoelectric point of Cyt c7 is pH 7.8, which facilitates reduction of chromate, in part, because the cytochrome molecule will not repel chromate. Not all cytochromes from sulfate-reducing bacteria reduce Fe(III) or other metals. D. vulgaris produces a cyt c553, which has a molecular mass of 9 kDa, midpoint redox potential of 0 mV, and a single heme and the iron atom is coordinated by histidine methionine. It is unclear at this time if the inability of this cyt c553 to reduce metals is due to lack of a bishistidinyl iron coordination or to some other factor, such as steric hinderance owing to orientation of heme in the protein. Since both Geobacter metallireducens and Geobacter sulfurreducens have triheme cyt c7 proteins (Champine et al. 2000, Afkar and f*ckumori 1999; Seeliger et al. 1998), it is appropriate to consider that these electron carriers function in metal reduction in a manner similar to that reported for the cyt c7 of D. acetooxidans. The role of other cytochromes in Geobacter has not been explored with respect to metal reduction.


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Models for Cellular Reduction Fe(III) Reduction For bacterial cells to use metals in dissimilatory reduction, there must be an appropriate set of enzymes and electron carriers arranged in the surface layers of bacteria. A model for Fe(III) reduction was proposed for G. sulfurreducens (Lovley 2000), and it involves a 41 kDa c-type cytochrome, a 9 kDa cytochrome, and an 89 kDa c-type cytochrome, which are positioned in the outer membrane, periplasm, and plasma membrane, respectively. The oxidation of compounds in the cytoplasm reduce a membrane-bound NADH dehydrogenase and electrons are passed along to the outer membrane, where Fe(III) is reduced. In iron-reducing bacteria, Fe(II) accumulates outside the cells. This is fortuitous, because if large quantities of Fe(III) were reduced, as in the case with dissimilatory iron reduction by an intracellular process, the cell would need to establish a procedure to handle accumulation of Fe(II), which could otherwise reach toxic levels. In addition, Beliaev and Saffarini (1998) showed that proteins in the outer membrane of Shewanella oneidensis (formerly Shewanella putrefaciens, Venkateswaran et al. 1999) are used for reduction of Fe(III) and Mn(IV). This model for electron transfer through a cytochrome cascade is useful in discussing iron and manganese reduction.

U(VI) Reduction The reduction of U(VI) by sulfate-reducing bacteria appears to occur at the cell surface of the anaerobes, since the reduced products of these elements accumulates in the environment outside of the cell. The proteins of cyt c3 and cyt c7 have been demonstrated to function as nonspecific metal dehydrogenases; however, these cytochromes are found in the periplasm and not in the outer membrane. Thus, if it were analogous to Fe(III) reduction, uranyl ions would most appropriately be reduced by a cytochrome in the outer membrane of the sulfate reducers. As demonstrated by Laishley and Bryant (see Chapter 18) cytochromes are located in the outer membrane of certain sulfate reducers; however, their role in reduction of U(VI) remains to be demonstrated.

As(V) Reduction Chrysiogenes arsenatis is the only known organism capable of using acetate as the electron donor and arsenate as the terminal electron acceptor for growth. This reduction of arsenate to arsenite is catalyzed by an inducible respiratory arsenate reductase, which has been isolated and characterized by Kraft and Macy (1998). Arsenate reductase (Arr) from C. arsenatis is a

16. Reduction of Metals and Nonessential Elements by Anaerobes


molybdenum-containing protein that contains acid-labile sulfur and zinc cofactor constituents. It consists of an a1b1-heterodimer of 123 kDa, and the two subunits have molecular weights of 87 and 29 kDa, respectively. The enzyme is specific for arsenate and is unable to reduce nitrite, sulfate, or selenate. Arr is able to couple the reduction of arsenate to oxidation of benzyl viologen with an apparent Km of 0.3 mM and a Vmax of 7 nmoles per minute per milligram protein. Experiments have determined that 86% of the arsenate reductase activity is in the periplasm and 10% is bound to the plasma membrane. A respiratory role for arsenate reductase has been proposed for C. arsenatis; however, the composition of such a respiratorycoupled chain has not been established. A second example of a membrane-bound arsenate reductase was isolated from Sulfurospirillum barnesii and was determined to be a a1b1g1heterotrimic enzyme complex (Newman et al. 1998). The enzyme has a composite molecular mass of 100 kDa, and a-, b-, and g-subunits have masses of 65, 31, and 22, respectively. This enzyme couples the reduction of As(V) to As(III) by oxidation of methyl viologen, with an apparent Km of 0.2 mM. Preliminary compositional analysis suggests that iron-sulfur and molybdenum prosthetic groups are present. Associated with the membrane of S. barnesii is a b-type cytochrome, and the arsenate reductase is proposed to be linked to the electron-transport system of the plasma membrane. The recently isolated Desulfotomaculum strain Ben-RB is able to grow using lactate as a substrate and arsenate as the sole electron acceptor (Macy et al. 2000). It has been proposed that arsenate reductase is associated with the respiratory chain of this organism, because >98% of the arsenate reductase bound to the plasma membrane.

Se(VI) Reduction Thauera selenatis is able to use selenate as a terminal electron acceptor for anaerobic respiration, and a selenate reductase enzyme was isolated (Schröder et al. 1997). The enzyme complex exhibiting selenate reductase activity is composed of an a1b1g1-trimer, and subunit masses were calculated at a, 96 kDa; b, 40 kDa; and g, 23 kDa. This reductase is a metal-containing protein that contains molybdenum, iron, and acid-labile sulfide. The sulfuriron molar values suggest the presence of at least two [Fe-S] centers. The selenate reductase in T. selenatis has a high specificity for selenate and does not reduce sulfate, chlorate, nitrate, or nitrite. Enzyme kinetics were calculated when reduced benzyl viologen is the electron donor, and the apparent Km is 16 mM selenate, with a Vmax of 40 mmole of selenate reduced per minute per milligram protein. The enzyme can also couple the oxidation of methyl viologen to selenate reduction, although at a relatively low specific activity. The enzyme is localized in the periplasm of the cell, but apparently is a segment of the respiratory chain, because it has an


L.L. Barton, et al.

association with a b-type cytochrome. When selenate is the only available electron acceptor, it is reduced to selenite without subsequent reduction to elemental selenium. A role for components of the denitrification pathway for metabolism of selenite is suggested, because when nitrate and selenate are both present, selenite does not accumulate but is reduced to Se0. In addition, it can be considered that the positioning of the selenate reductase in the periplasm may assist in reducing the toxic of selenite to the cells. Respiratory selenate reduction was studied in S. barnesii strain SES-3, and preliminary information regarding a membrane-bound dissimilatory selenate-reductase complex was reported (Stolz et al. 1997; Stolz and Oremland 1999). The selenate-reductase complex is a heterotetramer composed of subunits with masses of 82, 53, 34, and 21 kDa, respectively. The presence of molybdenum as a prosthetic group was suggested from experiments using inhibition by tungsten; however, chemical analysis of the enzyme has not been conducted. The enzyme does not appear to be specific for selenate but also reduces nitrate, fumarate, and thiosulfate. In addition, S. barnesii SES-3 has distinct reductases for nitrate, fumarate, and arsenate. The apparent Km for selanate is 12 mM. Although the mechanism for selenate reduction has not been resolved for S. barnesii strain SES-3, it appears that the mechanism of electron transfer is distinct from that found in T. selenatis. Selenium respiration was reported for two moderately halophilic and alkaliphilic bacteria; however, the mechanism of respiration is unresolved. The physiologic properties of Bacillus arsenicoselenatis strain E1H and Bacillus selenitireducens growing on selenate and selenite were described by Blum et al. (1998). Bacillus arsenicoselenatis is able to grow by dissimilatory reduction of selenate Se(VI), to selenite, Se(IV). Although B. arsenicoselenatis is unable to grow using selenate as the electron acceptor, it will grow with selenite reduced to elemental selenium, Se0. These two strains of Bacillus grow in co-culture, with selenate being reduced to Se0. Enzymes for these reactions have not been purified.

Conclusion We are at the discovery stage for determining the ability of various bacteria to reduce metals and nonessential compounds. Mechanisms for these reductions generally have not yet been established, and it is apparent that much is unknown. A number of questions pertaining to reduction are raised: Which elements and compounds are reduced at the cell surface? Why are some of the compounds not reduced at the cell surface but become reduced at the plasma membrane or in the cytoplasm? What is the nature of the nonenergetic reactions in the cytoplasm of the bacterial cell? What are the physiologic substrates for the cytochromes and which reactions occur because of substitution of chemicals due to similar structural features?

16. Reduction of Metals and Nonessential Elements by Anaerobes


Certainly, considerable flexibility and adaptability of electron flow is expected in bacteria, and many new strains are expected to be found that obtain energy from these chemical reductions. The natural gene flow over the years in the anaerobic ecosystems has produced microorganisms of considerable physiologic diversity. These anaerobic organisms continue to provide numerous biochemical challenges in the areas of anaerobic reduction of metals, metalloids, and nonessential elements by microorganisms.

Acknowledgments. Research discussed here in the laboratories of LLB and BMT was supported, in part, by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (WERC Consortium and NABIR Program).

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Lovley DR, Phillips EJP, Gorby YA, Landa E. 1991. Microbial reduction of uranium. Nature 350:413–6. Lovley DR, Roden EE, Phillips EJP, Woodward JC. 1993b. Enzymatic iron and uranium reduction by sulfate-reducing bacteria. Marine Geol 113:41–53. Lovley DR, Widman PK, Woodward JC, Phillips EJP. 1993c. Reduction of uranium by cytrochrome c3 of Desulfovibrio vulgaris. Appl Environ Microbiol 59:3572–6. Macy JM, Santini JM, Pauling BV, et al. 2000. Two new arsenate/sulfate-reducing bacteria: mechanism of arsenate reduction. Arch Microbiol 173:49–57. Malmqvist A, Welander T. 1992. Anaerobic removal of chlorate form bleach effluents. Water Sci Technol 25:237–42. Nealson KH, Saffarini D. 1994. Iron and manganese in anaerobic respiration: Environmental significance, physiology and regulation. Annu Rev Microbiol 48: 311–43. Newman DK, Ahmann D, Morel FMM. 1998. A brief review of microbial arsenate reduction. Geomicrobiology 15:255–68. Newman DK, Beveridge TJ, Morel FMM. 1997a. Precipitation of arsenic trisulfide by Desulfotomaculum aurigmentum. Appl Environ Microbiol 63:2022–8. Newman DK, Kennedy EK, Coats JD, et al. 1997b. Dissimilatory arsenate and sulfate reduction in Desulfotomaculum auripigmentum sp. nov. Arch Microbiol 168:380–8. Oremland RS, Blum JS, Culbertson CW, et al. 1994. Isolation, growth, and metabolism of an obligately anaerobically, selenate-respiring bacterium, strain SES-3. Appl Environ Microbiol 60:3011–9. Peck HD Jr. 1993. Bioenergetic strategies of sulfate-reducing bacteria. In: Odom JM, Singleton R Jr, editors. The sulfate-reducing bacteria: contemporary perspectives. New York: Springer-Verlag. p 41–76. Pietzsch K, Hard BC, Babel W. 1999. A Desulfovibrio sp. capable of growing by reducing U(VI). J Basic Microbiol 39:365–72. Rech SA, Macy JM. 1992. The terminal reductases for selenate and nitrate respiration in Thauera selenatis are two distinct enzymes. J Bacteriol 174:7316–20. Rikken GB, Kroon AGM, van Ginkel CG. 1996. Transformation of (per)chlorate into chloride by a newly isolated bacterium: reduction and dismutation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 45:420–6. Schröder I, Rech S, Kraft T, Macy JM. 1997. Purification and characterization of the selenate reductase form Thauera selenatis. J Biol Chem 272:23765–8. Seeliger S, Cord-Ruwisch R, Schink B. 1998. A periplasmic and extracellular c-type cytochrome of Geobacter sulfurreducens acts as a ferric iron reductase and as electron carrier to other acceptors or to partner bacteria. J Bacteriol 180:3686– 91. Stolz JF, Oremland RS. 1999. Bacterial respiration of arsenic and selenium. FEMS Microbiol Rev 23:615–27. Stolz JF, Ellis DJ, Blum JS, et al. 1999. Sulfurospirillum barnesii sp. nov. and Sulfurospirillum arsenophilum sp. nov., new members of the Sulfurospirillum clade of the e-Proteobacteria. Int J Syst Bacteriol 49:1177–80. Stolz JF, Gugliuzza T, Blum JS, et al. 1997. Differential cytochrome content and reductase activity in Geospirillum barnesii strain SeS3. Arch Microbiol 167:1–5. Stumm W, Morgan JJ. 1996. Aquatic chemistry. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley. Tebo BM, Obraztsova AY. 1998. Sulfate-reducing bacterium with Cr(VI), U(VI ), Mn(IV), Fe(III) as electron acceptors. FEMS Microbiol Lett 162:193–8.


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Tomei FA, Barton LL, Lemanski CL, Zocco TG. 1992. Reduction of selenate and selenite to elemental selenium by Wolinella succinogenes. Can J Microbiol 38:1328–33. Tomei FA, Barton LL, Lemanski CL, et al. 1995. Transformation of selenate and selenite to elemental selenium by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. J Indust Microbiol 14:329–36. Tucker MD, Barton LL, Thomson BM. 1997. Reduction and immobilization of molybdenum by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. J Environ Quality 26:1146–52. Tucker MD, Barton LL, Thomson BM. 1998. Reduction of Cr, Mo, Se, and U by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans immobilized in polyacrylamide gels. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 20:13–19. Venkateswaran K, Moser DP, Dollhopf ME, et al. 1999. Polyphasic taxonomy of the genus Shewanella and description of Shewanella oneidensis sp. nov. Int J Syst Bacteriol 49:704–24. Wagman DD, Evans WH, Parker VB, et al. 1982. The NBS tables of chemical thermodynamic properties. J Phys Chem Ref Data 11:1–293. Wang YT, Shen H. 1997. Modeling Cr(VI) reduction by pure bacterial cultures. Water Res 31:727–32. Wolfolk CA, Whiteley HR. 1962. Reduction of inorganic compounds with molecular hydrogen by Micrococcus lactilyicus. I. Stoichiometry with compounds of arsenic, selenium, tellurium, transition and other elements. J Bacteriol 84:647–58. Yanke LJ, Bryant RD, Laishley EJ. 1995. Hydrogenase of Clostridium pasteurianum functions as a novel selenite reductase. Anaerobe 1:61–7. Yurkova NA, Lyalikova NN. 1991. New vanadate-reducing facultative chemolithotrophic bacteria. Microbiology 59:672–7.

Suggested Reading Langmuir D. 1997. Aqueous environmental geochemistry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Lyalikova NN, Khizhnyak TV. 1996. Reduction of heptavalent technetium by acidophilic bacteria of the genus Thiobacillus. Microbiology 65:468–73. Macy JM, Lawson S. 1993. Cell yield [Y(M)] of Thauera selenatis grown anaerobically with acetate plus selenate or nitrate. Arch Microbiol 160:295–8.

17 Chemolithoautotrophic Thermophilic Iron(III)-Reducer Juergen Wiegel, Justin Hanel, and Kaya Aygen

Importance of Fe(III) Reduction and Diversity of Thermophilic Fe(III) Reducers The anaerobic reduction of metal ions, including ferric iron (Fe(III)) to ferrous iron (Fe(II)) by microorganisms, has been observed for >80 years (Harders 1919) and was reviewed several times from various viewpoints (Jones 1986; Lovley 1991, 1995; Nealson and Saffarini 1995). In general terms the process can be described by: Fe 3+ + electron fi Fe 2+


and, if hydrogen is the electron donor, the reaction is exergonic: 2Fe 2+ + H 2 fi 2Fe 2+ + 2H + with a DG∞¢ of 228.3 kJ / mol.


The subsequent formation of magnetite from Fe2+ and Fe(OH)3 is also exergonic with a DG°¢ of -60 kJ/mol (Stum and Morgan 1981). However, only recently has dissimilatory Fe(III) reduction by microorganisms been recognized as a widespread and ecologically and biogeochemically important reaction (for details on the history of recognized nonmicrobial and microbial Fe(III) reduction see e.g., Lovley 1991). Presently, there is no doubt about the ecological importance of microbial Fe(III) reduction in the cycling of metals and mineralization of organic material. Iron, the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (McGeary and Plummer 1997), plays important roles in the cycling of biomass (Ponnamperuma 1972). Furthermore, biotic dissimilatory iron reduction has become of increasing interest in the development of bioremediation strategies for decontamination of subsurface sites from hazardous waste material, including aromatic compounds (Lovley et al. 1989; Lovley and Lonergan 1990) as well as in novel concepts on the evolution of microbial life (Lovley 1991; Nealson and Saffarini 1995; Vargas et al. 1998; Slobodkin et al. 1999a). Important iron ores are the various ancient Banded Iron Formation deposits, which include the two major types: Algoma, thought to have been formed by submarine volcanic activities, and 235


J. Wiegel, et al.

the Superior type from the Proterozoic Age. Although it is generally believed that microorganisms were involved in the formation of some of the later formations, it has not been unequivocally established whether microbial or geochemical processes have been the major source of the iron precipitation (Guilbert and Park 1986; Lovley 1991). The extreme negative values for the carbon isotope shifts (up to around d-60 in some of the banded iron(II)-formations), strongly indicate that microbial processes were involved in the formation of these deposits (Canfield et al. 2000). One explanation of the low values is that the bacteria involved could have used carbon sources that were already metabolized, e.g., by methanogens, and thus already had undergone a significant isotope shift (i.e., d 12/13C values for methane are already negative; however, the values for the associated CO2/carbonates are positive, between +5 to +15‰) (Coleman et al. 1993; Horita and Berndt 1999). Bacteria capable of Fe(III) reduction belong to a wide range of groups in the phylogenetic tree (Lovley 1991, 1995; Lonergan et al. 1996; Slobodkin 1999b). These include obligate anaerobes, aerobic bacteria under oxygen limitation (Short and Blakemore 1986), facultative anaerobes, sulfate and sulfur reducers (Coleman et al. 1993; Roden and Lovley 1993), obligately autotrophic aerobic acidophiles such as Thiobacillus thiooxidans and the heterotrophic Acidophilium cryptum (Küsel et al. 1999), halotolerant marine bacteria such as Shewanella alga (Rosello-Mora et al. 1994), and nonhalotolerant freshwater bacteria such as Geobacter metalireducens (Lovley 1995). The diversity also includes a wide range from cold tolerant (formerly called “psychrotrophs”) iron reducers to iron-reducing hyperthermophiles such as Pyrobaculum islandicum (Vargas et al. 1998; Kashefi and Lovley 2000). Some of the Fe(III) reducers are able to use Fe(III) as the terminal electron acceptor for the complete mineralization of organic compounds, including acetate (Küsel et al. 1999; Roden and Lovley 1993), whereas others such as Desulfitobacterium dehalogenans only partially oxidize the carbon sources forming, e.g., acetate, (Wiegel, unpublished results). Fe(III)-reducing bacteria have been isolated or indicated in many different ecological niches with various pH, temperatures, salt concentrations, and contaminations of hazardous waste compounds. However, a larger number of Fe(III) reducers has been isolated from oil and hydrocarbon-contaminated or oil-associated sites (Greene et al. 1997; Tuccillo et al. 1999; Slobodkin et al. 1999a; Coates et al. 1999). Many novel (facultative) anaerobic Fe(III)-reducing bacteria have been described recently. Most of the mesophilic bacteria belong to the Gramtype negative (Wiegel 1981) proteobacteria with Shewanella, Geobacter, and Peleobacter or major representative. (Lovley 1995). Shewanella putrefaciens and G. metalireducens are among the most studied Fe(III) reducers. Much less, however, is known about the distribution and diversity of thermophilic and hyperthermophilic Fe(III) reducers. In contrast to the mesophilic iron reducers, the majority of the isolated thermophilic Fe(III)-

17. Chemolithoautotrophic Thermophilic Iron(III)-Reducer


reducing species belong to the Gram-type positive branch (Firmicutes). These include the heterotrophic Bacillus infernus (Boone et al. 1995), which was the first obligately anaerobic thermophilic Fe(III) reducer isolated; Thermoterrabacterium ferrireducens (Slobodkin et al. 1997b); and Thermoanaerobacter siderophilus (Slobodkin et al. 1999a) which can grow autotrophically. In contrast, Deferribacter thermophilus belongs to the Gram-type negative, or Flexistipes, group (Greene et al. 1997). Bacillus infernus (Boone et al. 1995), the first described thermophilic Fe(III)-reducer, is despite its phylogenetic position within the generally aerobic Bacillus species, an obligate anaerobe. This was the first instance in which the simple division between aerobic spore formers, (Bacillus and related bacteria) and the anaerobic spore formers, (clostridia and related bacteria) were disrupted. Since that time an aerobic bacterium, Thermaerobacter marianensis was described that was isolated from the Japanese Mariana Trench Chellenger Deep and clearly with the obligately anaerobic clostridia, Moorella, Thermoanaerobacter/Thermoanaerobacterium species, and the like from the Gram-type positive clostridial branch (Takai et al. 1999). Several strains of B. infernus isolated from deep (2700 m) subsurface samples grow in an estimated temperature range of 39–65°C (optimum 60°C) and a pH range of around 6.5 to 50% of the cell carbon came from the inorganic carbon dioxide/carbonate pool. The same is true for the enrichments from geothermal areas described by Slobodkin and Wiegel (1997), which stoichiometrically reduced Fe(III) using hydrogen in ratios of around 2 : 1. More recently, there is evidence that many hyperthermophilic anaerobic archaea are able to use soluble, complexed Fe(III) ions and amorphous

17. Chemolithoautotrophic Thermophilic Iron(III)-Reducer


Fe(III) hydroxide/oxide as electron acceptors. This indicates that anaerobic Fe(III) reduction was prevalent before the separation into Bacteria and Archaea. This finding may support the hypothesis that Fe(III) respiration is an ancient form of anaerobic respiration and might have been involved in the early evolution of prokaryotic life. The thermophilic iron reducers even include some aerobic bacteria. Bridge and Johnson (1998) demonstrated that the aerobic acidophilic, moderately thermophilic Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans, Sulfobacillus acidophilus, and Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans are also able to reduce Fe(III) with glycerol as carbon and electron donor under oxygen-limiting growth conditions. In this chapter, we report on additional, recently isolated thermophilic Fe(III) reducers that grow chemolithoautotrophically and reduce Fe(III) stoichiometrically using hydrogen and forming magnetite at unusual high rates. These strains constitute a novel Fe(III)-reducing group, ‘F. thermautotrophicus’, gen. nov., sp. nov. In addition, we describe several chemolithoautotrophic Fe(III)-reducing strains that are closely related to well-known heterotrophic species, which neither grow chemolithoautotrophically nor reduce Fe(III) and other metal ions, as far as is known. These bacteria are compared with two previously isolated and well-known thermophiles that can reduce iron heterotrophically but can neither grow autotrophically nor use Fe(III) reduction as a primary energy source.

General Isolation and Growth Conditions for Thermophilic Fe(III) Reducers The chemolithoautotrophic strains were isolated and routinely grown in anaerobic media under an 80 : 20 mix of hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases or under nitrogen gas with formate as carbon source and electron donor. The medium typically contained (per liter of deionized water) 0.33 g KH2PO4, 0.33 g NH4Cl, 0.33 g KCl, 0.33 g MgCl2 2H2O, 0.33 g CaCl2 2H2O, 2.0 g NaHCO3, 1 mL vitamin solution (Wolin et al. 1963) and 1.2 mL trace element solution (Slobodkin et al. 1997b). The pH values varied between 7 and 9.0. To this medium, Fe(III) (in the form of amorphous Fe(III) oxide/hydroxide) and/or 9,10-anthraquinone 2,6-disulfonic acid (AQDS) were added as electron acceptors. The Fe(III) concentration in the medium was equal to 90 mM, and the AQDS was at a final concentration of 20 mM. Medium was routinely sterilized by autoclaving at 121°C for 1 h. All cultures were grown in Hungate or Balch tubes at 60°C or at the indicated temperatures, and all transfers were carried out with syringes and needles under anaerobic conditions. For the isolation, usually 100 mL of medium was inoculated with 5–10 g of the samples and incubated statically with mixing only when checked for Fe(III) reduction and magnetite formation. Magnetite formation was checked using magnets and confirmed by X-ray


J. Wiegel, et al.

refractive analysis, and Fe(II) formation was determined by employing the 2,2-dipyridyl iron assay of Balashova and Zavarzin (1980). ‘Ferribacter thermautotrophicus’ gen. nov., sp. nov. (Hanel 2000). Based on the report from Slobodkin and Wiegel (1997), three strains were isolated: strain JW/JH-Fiji-2 from the hot spring runoff channel at the soccer field in Savu Savu on Vanu Levu (Fiji) and strains JW/KA-1 and JW/KA2T from a runoff channel (Y6) close to the Yellowstone River in the Calcite Springs area of Yellowstone National Park. From the latter, the non-ironreducing acetogen Moorella glycerini had previously been isolated (Slobodkin et al. 1997a). The iron-reducer Thermoterrabacterium ferrireducens (Slobodkin et al. 1997b) was isolated from an adjacent hot spring runoff channel (Y7) in the Calcite Spring area. Since the geothermal areas on Fiji and in the Yellowstone National Park belong to different geothermal systems and continental plates, the isolation of the same species indicates that this bacterium is apparently widely distributed. Isolating another thermophilic Fe(III) reducer from the hot springs of Calcite Spring indicates that several thermophilic Fe(III) reducers exist in these systems (see below). The cells of ‘F. thermautotrophicus’ were Gram-type positive rods that usually occurred singly but also in pairs and chains. Their growth temperature ranged from 50 to 75°C, with the optimum around 72°C. The pH60C range for chemolithoautotrophic growth was between 6.5 and 8.5, with the optimum at pH60C 7.3. However, resting cells converted the amorphous Fe(III) hydroxide/oxide stoichiometrically to magnetite in a pH60C range from 5.5 to nearly 11. In the presence of hydrogen and Fe(III), yeast extract, casamino acids, fumarate, and crotonate were utilized in addition to CO2 and lead to the formation of magnetite. Fumarate, thiosulfate, and the artificial humic acid analog 9,1-anthraquinone 2,4-disulfonic acid were used as electron acceptors beside Fe(III) hydroxide/oxide. Formate, frequently regarded as a pseudoautotrophic substrate could serve as electron donor as well as a carbon source for growth with Fe(III) as the terminal electron acceptor. In fact, formate turned out to be a good substrate for enrichment cultures for these chemolithoautotrophic iron-reducers. It was surprising that, Fe(III) citrate did not serve as an electron acceptor for these strains. This could be because the iron-sequestering system has less affinity for the iron ions than for citrate. Electron micrographs revealed that the strains of ‘F. thermautotrophicus’ were always in close proximity to the Fe(III)-hydroxide/oxide precipitation, although less strongly adhered to the Fe(III) particles than T. ferrireducens (Slobodkin et al. 1997b). The iron-uptake system is apparently different from that of T. ferrireducens, which requires a direct physical contact with the precipitated iron. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of Fe(III) reduction in these bacteria. The maximal cell density observed under chemolithoautotrophic growth conditions after refeeding twice with hydrogen was 108 cells mL-1 after

17. Chemolithoautotrophic Thermophilic Iron(III)-Reducer


1 week. Under extended incubation times without refeeding, the maximal cell density reached only 2–4 ¥ 107 cells mL-1; however, this occurs within 24 h owing to a doubling time of about 45 min at 72°C and pH60C 7.3. This density is much less than what can be reached under heterotrophical conditions with T. ferrireducens or B. infernus. However, the densities reached by Slobodkin et al. (1999a) with the isolates from the deep oil well were also around 4 ¥ 107 cells mL-1 when grown autotrophically. Furthermore, our other magnetite-producing isolates (described below) also reached only low densities when grown chemolithoautotrophically with Fe(III) as electron acceptor. The reason for this observed limitation in reaching higher cell densities is not known, but appears to be characteristic for the chemolithoautotrophic Fe(III)-reducing thermophiles. The most exciting observation was the high reduction rate at neutral pH of around 1.3 mmol Fe(II) formed per hour and milliliter at a cell concentration of 3 ¥ 107 mL-1. This rate is about 10 times higher than what has been reported for the other species at comparable cell densities. Even at the alkaline pH60C 10, rates of 0.1 mmol h-1 mL-1 were observed. Based on these properties, we speculate that this bacterium or species with similar properties could have been responsible for or could have been involved in processes leading to the Banded Iron Formation. In comparison, the highest value observed in coal mining-affected freshwater lake sediments supplemented with carbon sources and e-donors (organic or hydrogen) were maximally

Biochemistry and Physiology of Anaerobic Bacteria - PDF Free Download (2024)


What is the physiology of anaerobic bacteria? ›

Anaerobic bacteria include diverse species that can grow at environmental extremes of temperature, pH, salinity, substrate toxicity, or available free energy. The first evolved archaebacterial and eubacterial species appear to have been anaerobes adapted to high temperatures.

What biochemical test is used to identify anaerobic bacteria? ›

A double volume of substrate was inoculated with 24- to 48-h growth from an anaerobic BAP. The suspension of bacteria and substrate was then divided equally between two test tubes, and one was incubated aerobically at 35 C and the other anaerobically in an evacuation jar (90% CO,, 10% H2) also at 35 C.

What are the 5 anaerobic bacteria? ›

Anaerobic Bacteria List:
  • Actinomyces.
  • Bifidobacterium.
  • Fusobacterium.
  • Propionibacterium.
  • Clostridium.
  • Bacteroides.
  • Prevotella.

How do you diagnose anaerobic bacteria in the laboratory? ›

The identification of anaerobic bacteria involves the determination of cellular morphology, colonial characteristics on blood agar, and biochemical characteristics. In addition, the clostridia are tested for toxin production and, where necessary, the toxin is identified by toxin neutralization tests.

What are the diseases caused by anaerobic bacteria? ›

Anaerobic organ infections include, but are not restricted to, brain abscesses, dental infections, aspiration pneumonia, lung abscesses, bite infections (animal/human), abdominal abscesses, and necrotizing infections of soft tissue.

What kills anaerobic bacteria? ›

  • Anti-Infective Agents.
  • Carbapenems.
  • Penicillins.
  • beta-Lactamase Inhibitors.
  • Metronidazole.
  • Clindamycin.
  • Chloramphenicol.
  • Tigecycline.

What are the clinically important anaerobic bacteria? ›

The most commonly encountered anaerobes in clinical specimens include Bacteroides fragilis group, pigmented Prevotella spp. and Porphyromonas spp., Fusobacterium spp., Peptostreptococcus spp., Clostridium spp. and Actinomyces spp.

What are two ways to test if a bacterium is anaerobic? ›

The most accurate ways to identify obligate anaerobic bacteria are by thioglycollate broth culture and analytic laboratory instruments: The easiest way to differentiate aerobes from anaerobes is to inoculate the bacteria into a test tube with thioglycollate nutrient broth, which supports the growth of bacteria.

What specimen is used for anaerobic bacteria? ›

Materials appropriate for anaerobic culture include blood specimens, aspirates of body fluids (pleural, pericardial, cerebrospinal, peritoneal, and joint fluids), urine collected by suprapubic aspiration, abscess contents, deep wound aspirates, and specimens obtained by special procedures such as transtracheal ...

Where do anaerobic bacteria live in the human body? ›

Anaerobic bacteria are prevalent among the bacterial populations of the human body, particularly on mucous membrane surfaces. The major sites with a rich anaerobic normal microflora are the mouth, the gastrointestinal tract and the female genital tract.

What antibiotic kills aerobic bacteria? ›

Aerobic Gram Negative Bacteria
  • azithromycin.
  • clarithromycin.
  • amoxicillin + clavulanate.
  • second or third generation cephalosporin.
  • co-trimoxazole 10mg/kg of sulphamethoxazole.

What is the most common anaerobic bacteremia? ›

Elderly persons seem to be at increased risk for developing anaerobic bacteremia while young children (2–5 years of age) are at the least risk. Bacteroides fragilis is the most common blood isolate recovered from patients with anaerobic bacteremia; this organism and species of the B.

How do you fix anaerobic bacteria? ›

Anaerobic bacteria do not survive well or at all the presence of oxygen, so you could poison them with oxygen. If you're talking about an anaerobic bacteria infection, and need antibiotics and again oxygen. If the anaerobic infection is deep, a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can be lifesaving.

What are the clues to an anaerobic infection? ›

Clues to diagnosis include a foul-smelling discharge, gas, necrotic tissue, abscess formation, the unique morphology of certain anaerobes on Gram's Stain, and failure to obtain growth on aerobic culture despite the presence of organisms on Gram-stained direct smear.

What is blood test for anaerobic infection? ›

What is this test? This test looks for certain types of bacteria in a wound or a fluid sample from an infection site. These bacteria are called anaerobic because they don't need oxygen to grow. An anaerobic culture means the test is done without letting oxygen get to the sample.

What is the physiology of the anaerobic system? ›

The Anaerobic System provides the body with explosive short term energy without the need for oxygen. Stored in the cells in the chemical adenosine triphosphate(ATP), the energy the anaerobic system delivers powers the working muscle cells when the blood is unable to provide them with oxygen quickly enough.

What is the physiology of anaerobic respiration? ›

Anaerobic respiration is the process of ATP synthesis without adequate oxygen delivery to tissues. Sometimes the body cannot supply the muscles with the oxygen it needs to create energy, for example during intense exercise.

What is the physiology of anaerobic metabolism? ›

Anaerobic metabolism, which can be defined as ATP production without oxygen (or in the absence of oxygen), occurs by direct phosphate transfer from phosphorylated intermediates, such as glycolytic intermediates or creatine phosphate (CrP), to ADP forming ATP.

What is the action of anaerobic bacteria? ›

Anaerobic infections are typically suppurative, causing abscess formation and tissue necrosis and sometimes septic thrombophlebitis, gas formation, or both. Many anaerobes produce tissue-destructive enzymes, as well as some of the most potent paralytic toxins known (eg, C. botulinum and C. tetani neurotoxins).


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