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Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 13;9(1):13209. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49717-6.

Fluxomic Analysis Reveals Central Carbon Metabolism Adaptation for Diazotroph Azotobacter vinelandii Ammonium Excretion.

Author information

1
Bioenergy Science and Technology Directorate, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 15013, Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO, 80401, USA.
2
Bioenergy Science and Technology Directorate, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 15013, Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO, 80401, USA. wei.xiong@nrel.gov.
3
Bioenergy Science and Technology Directorate, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 15013, Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO, 80401, USA. lieve.laurens@nrel.gov.

Abstract

Diazotrophic bacteria are an attractive biological alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizers due to their remarkable capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen gas to ammonium via nitrogenase enzymes. However, how diazotrophic bacteria tailor central carbon catabolism to accommodate the energy requirement for nitrogenase activity is largely unknown. In this study, we used Azotobacter vinelandii DJ and an ammonium excreting mutant, AV3 (ΔNifL), to investigate central carbon metabolism fluxes and central cell bioenergetics in response to ammonium availability and nitrogenase activity. Enabled by the powerful and reliable methodology of 13C-metabolic flux analysis, we show that the respiratory TCA cycle is upregulated in association with increased nitrogenase activity and causes a monotonic decrease in specific growth rate. Whereas the activity of the glycolytic Entner-Doudoroff pathway is positively correlated with the cell growth rate. These new observations are formulated into a 13C-metabolic flux model which further improves the understanding and interpretation of intracellular bioenergetics. This analysis leads to the conclusion that, under aerobic conditions, respiratory TCA metabolism is responsible for the supply of additional ATP and reducing equivalents required for elevated nitrogenase activity. This study provides a quantitative relationship between central carbon and nitrogen metabolism in an aerobic diazotroph for the first time.

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