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Environ Microbiol. 2008 Nov;10(11):3070-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01557.x. Epub 2008 Feb 24.

Transcription and activities of NOx reductases in Agrobacterium tumefaciens: the influence of nitrate, nitrite and oxygen availability.

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Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway.


The ability of Agrobacetrium tumefaciens to perform balanced transitions from aerobic to anaerobic respiration was studied by monitoring oxygen depletion, transcription of nirK and norB, and the concentrations of nitrite, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrous oxide in stirred batch cultures with different initial oxygen, nitrate or nitrite concentrations. Nitrate concentrations (0.2-2 mM) did not affect oxygen depletion, nor the oxygen concentration at which denitrification was initiated (1-2 microM). Nitrite (0.2-2 mM), on the other hand, retarded the oxygen depletion as it reached approximately 20 microM, and caused initiation of active denitrification as oxygen concentrations reached 10-17 microM. Unbalanced transitions occurred in treatments with high cell densities (i.e. with rapid transition from oxic to anoxic conditions), seen as NO accumulation to muM concentrations and impeded nitrous oxide production. This phenomenon was most severe in nitrite treatments, and reduced the cells' ability to respire oxygen during subsequent oxic conditions. Transcripts of norB were only detectable during the period with active denitrification. In contrast, nirK transcripts were detected at low levels both before and after this period. The results demonstrate that the transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism is a regulatory challenge, with implications for survival and emission of trace gases from denitrifying bacteria.

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