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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Energy metabolism in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough: insights from transcriptome analysis


Sulphate-reducing bacteria are important players in the global sulphur and carbon cycles, with considerable economical and ecological impact. However, the process of sulphate respiration is still incompletely understood. Several mechanisms of energy conservation have been proposed, but it is unclear how the different strategies contribute to the overall process. In order to obtain a deeper insight into the energy metabolism of sulphate-reducers whole-genome microarrays were used to compare the transcriptional response of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough grown with hydrogen/sulphate, pyruvate/sulphate, pyruvate with limiting sulphate, and lactate/thiosulphate, relative to growth in lactate/sulphate. Growth with hydrogen/sulphate showed the largest number of differentially expressed genes and the largest changes in transcript levels. In this condition the most up-regulated energy metabolism genes were those coding for the periplasmic [NiFeSe] hydrogenase, followed by the Ech hydrogenase. The results also provide evidence for the involvement of formate cycling and the recently proposed ethanol pathway during growth in hydrogen. The pathway involving CO cycling is relevant during growth on lactate and pyruvate, but not during growth in hydrogen as the most down-regulated genes were those coding for the CO-induced hydrogenase. Growth on lactate/thiosulphate reveals a down-regulation of several energy metabolism genes similar to what was observed in the presence of nitrite. This study identifies the role of several proteins involved in the energy metabolism of D. vulgaris and highlights several novel genes related to this process, revealing a more complex bioenergetic metabolism than previously considered.

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