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Microbiology. 2010 Aug;156(Pt 8):2428-37. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.036004-0. Epub 2010 May 6.

Anaerobic phototrophic nitrite oxidation by Thiocapsa sp. strain KS1 and Rhodopseudomonas sp. strain LQ17.

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Microbial Ecology, Department of Biology, Universit├Ąt Konstanz, D-78465 Konstanz, Germany.


In anaerobic enrichment cultures for phototrophic nitrite-oxidizing bacteria from different freshwater sites, two different cell types, i.e. non-motile cocci and motile, rod-shaped bacteria, always outnumbered all other bacteria. Most-probable-number (MPN) dilution series with samples from two freshwater sites yielded only low numbers (<or=3x10(3) cm(-3)) of phototrophic nitrite oxidizers. Slightly higher numbers (about 10(4) cm(-3)) were found in activated sewage sludge. Anaerobic phototrophic oxidation of nitrite was studied with two different isolates, the phototrophic sulfur bacterium strain KS1 and the purple nonsulfur bacterium strain LQ17, both of which were isolated from activated sludge collected from the municipal sewage treatment plant in Konstanz, Germany. Strain KS1 converted 1 mM nitrite stoichiometrically to nitrate with concomitant formation of cell matter within 2-3 days, whereas strain LQ17 oxidized only up to 60 % of the given nitrite to nitrate within several months with the concomitant formation of cell biomass. Nitrite oxidation to nitrate was strictly light-dependent and required the presence of molybdenum in the medium. Nitrite was oxidized in both the presence and absence of oxygen. Nitrite inhibited growth at concentrations higher than 2 mM. Hydroxylamine and hydrazine were found to be toxic to the phototrophs in the range 5-50 muM and did not stimulate phototrophic growth. Based on morphology, substrate-utilization pattern, in vivo absorption spectra, and 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity, strain KS1 was assigned to the genus Thiocapsa and strain LQ17 to the genus Rhodopseudomonas. Also, Thiocapsa roseopersicina strains DSM 217 and DSM 221 were found to oxidize nitrite to nitrate with concomitant growth. We conclude that the ability to use nitrite phototrophically as electron donor is widespread in nature, but low MPN counts indicate that its contribution to nitrite oxidation in the studied habitats is rather limited.

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