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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Jul; 57(7): 2057–2062.
PMCID: PMC183521

Growth of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans on Formic Acid

Abstract

A variety of acidophilic microorganisms were shown to be capable of oxidizing formate. These included Thiobacillus ferrooxidans ATCC 21834, which, however, could not grow on formate in normal batch cultures. However, the organism could be grown on formate when the substrate supply was growth limiting, e.g., in formate-limited chemostat cultures. The cell densities achieved by the use of the latter cultivation method were higher than cell densities reported for growth of T. ferrooxidans on ferrous iron or reduced sulfur compounds. Inhibition of formate oxidation by cell suspensions, but not cell extracts, of formate-grown T. ferrooxidans occurred at formate concentrations above 100 μM. This observation explains the inability of the organism to grow on formate in batch cultures. Cells grown in formate-limited chemostat cultures retained the ability to oxidize ferrous iron at high rates. Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase activities in cell extracts indicated that T. ferrooxidans employs the Calvin cycle for carbon assimilation during growth on formate. Oxidation of formate by cell extracts was NAD(P) independent.

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Selected References

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