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Arch Microbiol. 1998 Jul;170(1):8-17.

Aerobic chemolithoautotrophic growth and RubisCO function in Rhodobacter capsulatus and a spontaneous gain of function mutant of Rhodobacter sphaeroides.

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The Department of Microbiology and Plant Molecular Biology/Biotechnology Program, The Ohio State University, 484 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1292, USA.


Photosynthetic prokaryotes that assimilate CO2 under anoxic conditions may also grow chemolithoautotrophically with O2 as the electron acceptor. Among the nonsulfur purple bacteria, two species (Rhodobacter capsulatus and Rhodopseudomonas acidophilus), exhibit aerobic chemolithoautotrophic growth with hydrogen as the electron donor. Although wild-type strains of Rhodobacter sphaeroides grow poorly, if at all, with hydrogen plus oxygen in the dark, we report here the isolation of a spontaneous mutant (strain HR-CAC) of Rba. sphaeroides strain HR that is fully capable of this mode of growth. Rba. sphaeroides and Rba. capsulatus fix CO2 via the reductive pentose phosphate pathway and synthesize two forms of ribulose 1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO). RubisCO levels in the aerobic-chemolithoautotrophic-positive strain of Rba. sphaeroides were similar to those in wild-type strains of Rba. sphaeroides and Rba. capsulatus during photoheterotrophic and photolithoautotrophic growth. Moreover, RubisCO levels of Rba. sphaeroides strain HR-CAC approximated levels obtained in Rba. capsulatus when the organisms were grown as aerobic chemolithoautotrophs. Either form I or form II RubisCO was able to support aerobic chemolithoautotrophic growth of Rba. capsulatus strain SB 1003 and Rba. sphaeroides strain HR-CAC at a variety of CO2 concentrations, although form II RubisCO began to lose the capacity to support aerobic CO2 fixation at high O2 to CO2 ratios. The latter property and other facets of the physiology of this system suggest that Rba. sphaeroides and Rba. capsulatus strains may be effectively employed for the biological selection of RubisCO molecules of altered substrate specificity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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