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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Jan;58(1):376-84.

Isolation and characterization of a nitrite reductase gene and its use as a probe for denitrifying bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


The dissimilatory nitrite reductase gene (nir) from denitrifying bacterium Pseudomonas stutzeri JM300 was isolated and sequenced. In agreement with recent sequence information from another strain of P. stutzeri (strain ZoBell), strain JM300 nir is the first gene in an operon and is followed immediately by a gene which codes for a tetraheme protein; 2.5 kb downstream from the nitrite reductase carboxyl terminus is the cytochrome c551 gene. P. stutzeri JM300 nir is 67% homologous to P. aeruginosa nir and 88% homologous to P. stutzeri ZoBell nir. Within the nitrite reductase promoter region is an fnr-like operator very similar to an operator upstream of a separate anaerobic pathway, that for arginine catabolism in P. aeruginosa. The denitrification genes in P. stutzeri thus may be under the same regulatory control as that found for other anaerobic pathways of pseudomonads. We have generated gene probes from restriction fragments within the nitrite reductase operon to evaluate their usefulness in ecology studies of denitrification. Probes generated from the carboxyl terminus region hybridized to denitrifying bacteria from five separate genera and did not cross-hybridize to any nondenitrifying bacteria among six genera tested. The denitrifier probes were successful in detecting denitrifying bacteria from samples such as a bioreactor consortium, aquifer microcosms, and denitrifying toluene-degrading enrichments. The probes also were used to reveal restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns indicating the diversity of denitrifiers present in these mixed communities.

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