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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1995 Sep 1;131(2):219-25.

The anaerobic life of Bacillus subtilis: cloning of the genes encoding the respiratory nitrate reductase system.

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Laboratorium für Mikrobiologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.


The Gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis, generally regarded as an aerobe, grows under strict anaerobic conditions using nitrate as an electron acceptor and should be designated as a facultative anaerobe. Growth experiments demonstrated a lag phase of 24 to 36 hours after the shift from aerobic, to the onset of anaerobic respiratory growth. Anaerobically adapted cells grew without further lag phase after their transfer to fresh anaerobic growth medium. The cells change their morphology from rods to longer filament-like structures when moved from aerobic to anaerobic respiratory growth conditions. Surprisingly, anaerobically grown B. subtilis lost the capacity for sporulation. An investigation of the molecular basis of the switch between aerobic and anaerobic growth was initiated by the cloning of the genes encoding the respiratory nitrate reductase from B. subtilis. Oligonucleotides deduced from conserved amino acid sequence regions of eubacterial respiratory nitrate reductases and related enzymes were used for the isolation of the genes. Four open reading frames with significant homology to the E. coli respiratory nitrate reductase operons (narGHIJ, narZYWV) were isolated and termed narGHJI. A chromosomal knock-out mutation of the B. subtilis nar operon totally abolished nitrate respiration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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