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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Taurine reduction in anaerobic respiration of Bilophila wadsworthia RZATAU.

Organosulfonates are important natural and man-made compounds, but until recently (T. J. Lie, T. Pitta, E. R. Leadbetter, W. Godchaux III, and J. R. Leadbetter. Arch. Microbiol. 166:204-210, 1996), they were not believed to be dissimilated under anoxic conditions. We also chose to test whether alkane- and arenesulfonates could serve as electron sinks in respiratory metabolism. We generated 60 anoxic enrichment cultures in mineral salts medium which included several potential electron donors and a single organic sulfonate as an electron sink, and we used material from anaerobic digestors in communal sewage works as inocula. None of the four aromatic sulfonates, the three unsubstituted alkanesulfonates, or the N-sulfonate tested gave positive enrichment cultures requiring both the electron donor and electron sink for growth. Nine cultures utilizing the natural products taurine, cysteate, or isethionate were considered positive for growth, and all formed sulfide. Two clearly different pure cultures were examined. Putative Desulfovibrio sp. strain RZACYSA, with lactate as the electron donor, utilized sulfate, aminomethanesulfonate, taurine, isethionate, and cysteate, converting the latter to ammonia, acetate, and sulfide. Strain RZATAU was identified by 16S rDNA analysis as Bilophila wadsworthia. In the presence of, e.g., formate as the electron donor, it utilized, e.g., cysteate and isethionate and converted taurine quantitatively to cell material and products identified as ammonia, acetate, and sulfide. Sulfite and thiosulfate, but not sulfate, were utilized as electron sinks, as was nitrate, when lactate was provided as the electron donor and carbon source. A growth requirement for 1,4-naphthoquinone indicates a menaquinone electron carrier, and the presence of cytochrome c supports the presence of an electron transport chain. Pyruvate-dependent disappearance of taurine from cell extracts, as well as formation of alanine and release of ammonia and acetate, was detected. We suspected that sulfite is an intermediate, and we detected desulfoviridin (sulfite reductase). We thus believe that sulfonate reduction is one aspect of a respiratory system transferring electrons from, e.g., formate to sulfite reductase via an electron transport system which presumably generates a proton gradient across the cell membrane.[1]


  1. Taurine reduction in anaerobic respiration of Bilophila wadsworthia RZATAU. Laue, H., Denger, K., Cook, A.M. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (1997) [Pubmed]
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