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J Bacteriol. 2002 Apr;184(8):2081-7.

Anaerobic respiration using Fe(3+), S(0), and H(2) in the chemolithoautotrophic bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans.

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Department of Bio-Science, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, 1646 Abiko, Abiko-City Chiba 270-1194, Japan.


The chemolithoautotrophic bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans has been known as an aerobe that respires on iron and sulfur. Here we show that the bacterium could chemolithoautotrophically grow not only on H(2)/O(2) under aerobic conditions but also on H(2)/Fe(3+), H(2)/S(0), or S(0)/Fe(3+) under anaerobic conditions. Anaerobic respiration using Fe(3+) or S(0) as an electron acceptor and H(2) or S(0) as an electron donor serves as a primary energy source of the bacterium. Anaerobic respiration based on reduction of Fe(3+) induced the bacterium to synthesize significant amounts of a c-type cytochrome that was purified as an acid-stable and soluble 28-kDa monomer. The purified cytochrome in the oxidized form was reduced in the presence of the crude extract, and the reduced cytochrome was reoxidized by Fe(3+). Respiration based on reduction of Fe(3+) coupled to oxidation of a c-type cytochrome may be involved in the primary mechanism of energy production in the bacterium on anaerobic iron respiration.

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