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Biodegradation. 2003 Jun;14(3):189-98.

Sulfite-oxido-reductase is involved in the oxidation of sulfite in Desulfocapsa sulfoexigens during disproportionation of thiosulfate and elemental sulfur.

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Department of Microbial Ecology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


The enzymatic pathways of elemental sulfur and thiosulfate disproportionation were investigated using cell-free extract of Desulfocapsa sulfoexigens. Sulfite was observed to be an intermediate in the metabolism of both compounds. Two distinct pathways for the oxidation of sulfite have been identified. One pathway involves APS reductase and ATP sulfurylase and can be described as the reversion of the initial steps of the dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway. The second pathway is the direct oxidation of sulfite to sulfate by sulfite oxidoreductase. This enzyme has not been reported from sulfate reducers before. Thiosulfate reductase, which cleaves thiosulfate into sulfite and sulfide, was only present in cell-free extract from thiosulfate disproportionating cultures. We propose that this enzyme catalyzes the first step in thiosulfate disproportionation. The initial step in sulfur disproportionation was not identified. Dissimilatory sulfite reductase was present in sulfur and thiosulfate disproportionating cultures. The metabolic function of this enzyme in relation to elemental sulfur or thiosulfate disproportionation was not identified. The presence of the uncouplers HQNO and CCCP in growing cultures had negative effects on both thiosulfate and sulfur disproportionation. CCCP totally inhibited sulfur disproportionation and reduced thiosulfate disproportionation by 80% compared to an unamended control. HQNO reduced thiosulfate disproportionation by 80% and sulfur disproportionation by 90%.

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