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Front Microbiol. 2014 Oct 31;5:577. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00577. eCollection 2014.

The genetic basis of energy conservation in the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20.

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Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley Lab Berkeley, CA, USA.
Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA.
Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley Lab Berkeley, CA, USA ; Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA ; Department of Bioengineering, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA.


Sulfate-reducing bacteria play major roles in the global carbon and sulfur cycles, but it remains unclear how reducing sulfate yields energy. To determine the genetic basis of energy conservation, we measured the fitness of thousands of pooled mutants of Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20 during growth in 12 different combinations of electron donors and acceptors. We show that ion pumping by the ferredoxin:NADH oxidoreductase Rnf is required whenever substrate-level phosphorylation is not possible. The uncharacterized complex Hdr/flox-1 (Dde_1207:13) is sometimes important alongside Rnf and may perform an electron bifurcation to generate more reduced ferredoxin from NADH to allow further ion pumping. Similarly, during the oxidation of malate or fumarate, the electron-bifurcating transhydrogenase NfnAB-2 (Dde_1250:1) is important and may generate reduced ferredoxin to allow additional ion pumping by Rnf. During formate oxidation, the periplasmic [NiFeSe] hydrogenase HysAB is required, which suggests that hydrogen forms in the periplasm, diffuses to the cytoplasm, and is used to reduce ferredoxin, thus providing a substrate for Rnf. During hydrogen utilization, the transmembrane electron transport complex Tmc is important and may move electrons from the periplasm into the cytoplasmic sulfite reduction pathway. Finally, mutants of many other putative electron carriers have no clear phenotype, which suggests that they are not important under our growth conditions, although we cannot rule out genetic redundancy.


Desulfovibrio; electron bifurcation; energy metabolism; membrane complexes; sulfate reducing bacteria

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