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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49793. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049793. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Metagenomic and biochemical characterizations of sulfur oxidation metabolism in uncultured large sausage-shaped bacterium in hot spring microbial mats.

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Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


So-called "sulfur-turf" microbial mats in sulfide containing hot springs (55-70°C, pH 7.3-8.3) in Japan were dominated by a large sausage-shaped bacterium (LSSB) that is closely related to the genus Sulfurihydrogenibium. Several previous reports proposed that the LSSB would be involved in sulfide oxidation in hot spring. However, the LSSB has not been isolated yet, thus there has been no clear evidence showing whether it possesses any genes and enzymes responsible for sulfide oxidation. To verify this, we investigated sulfide oxidation potential in the LSSB using a metagenomic approach and subsequent biochemical analysis. Genome fragments of the LSSB (a total of 3.7 Mb sequence including overlapping fragments) were obtained from the metagenomic fosmid library constructed from genomic DNA of the sulfur-turf mats. The sequence annotation clearly revealed that the LSSB possesses sulfur oxidation-related genes coding sulfide dehydrogenase (SD), sulfide-quinone reductase and sulfite dehydrogenase. The gene encoding SD, the key enzyme for sulfide oxidation, was successfully cloned and heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. The purified recombinant enzyme clearly showed SD activity with optimum temperature and pH of 60°C and 8.0, respectively, which were consistent with the environmental conditions in the hot spring where the sulfur-turf thrives. Furthermore, the affinity of SD to sulfide was relatively high, which also reflected the environment where the sulfide could be continuously supplied. This is the first report showing that the LSSB harbors sulfide oxidizing metabolism adapted to the hot spring environment and can be involved in sulfide oxidation in the sulfur-turf microbial mats.

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