Transition from Anaerobic to Aerobic Growth Conditions for the Sulfate-Reducing Bacterium Desulfovibrio oxyclinae Results in Flocculation

A chemostat culture of the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio oxyclinae isolated from the oxic layer of a hypersaline cyanobacterial mat was grown anaerobically and then subjected to gassing with 1% oxygen, both at a dilution rate of 0.05 h−1. The sulfate reduction rate under anaerobic conditions was 370 nmol of SO4 2− mg of protein−1 min−1. At the onset of aerobic gassing, sulfate reduction decreased by 40%, although viable cell numbers did not decrease. After 42 h, the sulfate reduction rate returned to the level observed in the anaerobic culture. At this stage the growth yield increased by 180% compared to the anaerobic culture to 4.4 g of protein per mol of sulfate reduced. Protein content per cell increased at the same time by 40%. The oxygen consumption rate per milligram of protein measured in washed cell suspensions increased by 80%, and the thiosulfate reduction rate of the same samples increased by 29% with lactate as the electron donor. These findings indicated possible oxygen-dependent enhancement of growth. After 140 h of growth under oxygen flux, formation of cell aggregates 0.1 to 3 mm in diameter was observed. Micrometer-sized aggregates were found to form earlier, during the first hours of exposure to oxygen. The respiration rate of D. oxyclinaewas sufficient to create anoxia inside clumps larger than 3 μm, while the levels of dissolved oxygen in the growth vessel were 0.7 ± 0.5 μM. Aggregation of sulfate-reducing bacteria was observed within a Microcoleus chthonoplastes-dominated layer of a cyanobacterial mat under daily exposure to oxygen concentrations of up to 900 μM. Desulfonema-like sulfate-reducing bacteria were also common in this environment along with other nonaggregated sulfate-reducing bacteria. Two-dimensional mapping of sulfate reduction showed heterogeneity of sulfate reduction activity in this oxic zone.

Authors: Sigalevich P, Meshorer E, Helman Y and Cohen Y
Year of publication: 2000
Journal: Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66:5005-5012

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