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Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jan;10(1):87-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01432.x.

Bioenergetic models for acetate and phosphate transport in bacteria important in enhanced biological phosphorus removal.

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Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.


Most of our understanding of the physiology of microorganisms is the result of investigations in pure culture. However, in order to understand complex environmental processes, there is a need to investigate mixed microbial communities. This is true for enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR), an environmental process that results in the enrichment of the polyphosphate-accumulating organism Accumulibacter spp. and the glycogen non-polyphosphate accumulating organism Defluviicoccus spp. We investigated acetate and inorganic phosphate (P(i)) uptake in enrichments of Accumulibacter spp. and acetate uptake in enrichments of Defluviicoccus spp. For both enrichments, anaerobic acetate uptake assays in the presence of the protonophore, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) or the membrane potential (Delta psi) uncoupler valinomycin, indicated that acetate is likely to be taken up by a permease-mediated process driven by the Delta psi. Further investigation with the sodium ionophore monensin suggested that anaerobic acetate uptake by Defluviicoccus spp. may in part be dependent on a sodium potential. Results of this study also suggest that Accumulibacter spp. generate a proton motive force (pmf or Delta p) for anaerobic acetate uptake by efflux of protons in symport with P(i) through an inorganic phosphate transport (Pit) system. In contrast, we suggest that the anaerobic Delta p in Defluviicoccus spp. is generated by an efflux of protons across the cell membrane by the fumarate respiratory system, or by extrusion of sodium ions via decarboxylation of methylmalonyl-CoA. Aerobic P(i) uptake by the Accumulibacter spp. enrichment was strongly inhibited in the presence of an ATPase inhibitor, suggesting that the phosphate-specific transport (Pst) system is important even under relatively high concentrations of P(i). Acetate permease activity in these microorganisms may play an important role in the competition for acetate in the often acetate-limited EBPR process. Activity of a high-velocity Pst system in Accumulibacter spp. may further explain its ability to compete strongly in EBPR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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