Evolution from a respiratory ancestor to fill syntrophic and fermentative niches: comparative fenomics of six Geobacteraceae species.

Department of Microbiology, 203 Morrill Science Center IVN, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.
BMC Genomics (Impact Factor: 4.04). 04/2009; 10:103. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-10-103
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The anaerobic degradation of organic matter in natural environments, and the biotechnical use of anaerobes in energy production and remediation of subsurface environments, both require the cooperative activity of a diversity of microorganisms in different metabolic niches. The Geobacteraceae family contains members with three important anaerobic metabolisms: fermentation, syntrophic degradation of fermentation intermediates, and anaerobic respiration.
In order to learn more about the evolution of anaerobic microbial communities, the genome sequences of six Geobacteraceae species were analyzed. The results indicate that the last common Geobacteraceae ancestor contained sufficient genes for anaerobic respiration, completely oxidizing organic compounds with the reduction of external electron acceptors, features that are still retained in modern Geobacter and Desulfuromonas species. Evolution of specialization for fermentative growth arose twice, via distinct lateral gene transfer events, in Pelobacter carbinolicus and Pelobacter propionicus. Furthermore, P. carbinolicus gained hydrogenase genes and genes for ferredoxin reduction that appear to permit syntrophic growth via hydrogen production. The gain of new physiological capabilities in the Pelobacter species were accompanied by the loss of several key genes necessary for the complete oxidation of organic compounds and the genes for the c-type cytochromes required for extracellular electron transfer.
The results suggest that Pelobacter species evolved parallel strategies to enhance their ability to compete in environments in which electron acceptors for anaerobic respiration were limiting. More generally, these results demonstrate how relatively few gene changes can dramatically transform metabolic capabilities and expand the range of environments in which microorganisms can compete.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pelobacter carbinolicus and P. acetylenicus oxidize ethanol in syntrophic cooperation with methanogens. Cocultures with Methanospirillum hungatei served as model systems for the elucidation of syntrophic ethanol oxidation previously done with the lost "Methanobacillus omelianskii" coculture. During growth on ethanol, both Pelobacter species exhibited NAD+-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase activity. Two different acetaldehyde-oxidizing activities were found: a benzyl viologen-reducing enzyme forming acetate, and a NAD+-reducing enzyme forming acetyl-CoA. Both species synthesized ATP from acetyl-CoA via acetyl phosphate. Comparative 2D-PAGE of ethanol-grown P. carbinolicus revealed enhanced expression of tungsten-dependent acetaldehyde: ferredoxin oxidoreductases and formate dehydrogenase. Tungsten limitation resulted in slower growth and the expression of a molybdenum-dependent isoenzyme. Putative comproportionating hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenase were expressed constitutively and are probably involved in interspecies electron transfer. In ethanol-grown cocultures, the maximum hydrogen partial pressure was about 1,000 Pa (1 mM) while 2 mM formate was produced. The redox potentials of hydrogen and formate released during ethanol oxidation were calculated to be EH2 = -358±12 mV and EHCOOH = -366±19 mV, respectively. Hydrogen and formate formation and degradation further proved that both carriers contributed to interspecies electron transfer. The maximum Gibbs free energy that the Pelobacter species could exploit during growth on ethanol was -35 to -28 kJ per mol ethanol. Both species could be cultivated axenically on acetaldehyde, yielding energy from its disproportionation to ethanol and acetate. Syntrophic cocultures grown on acetoin revealed a two-phase degradation: first acetoin degradation to acetate and ethanol without involvement of the methanogenic partner, and subsequent syntrophic ethanol oxidation. Protein expression and activity patterns of both Pelobacter spp. grown with the named substrates were highly similar suggesting that both share the same steps in ethanol and acetalydehyde metabolism. The early assumption that acetaldehyde is a central intermediate in Pelobacter metabolism was now proven biochemically.
    PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e115902. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0115902 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Syntrophic associations are central to microbial communities and thus have a fundamental role in the global carbon cycle. Despite biochemical approaches describing the physiological activity of these communities, there has been a lack of a mechanistic understanding of the relationship between complex nutritional and energetic dependencies and their functioning. Here we apply a multi-omic modelling workflow that combines genomic, transcriptomic and physiological data with genome-scale models to investigate dynamics and electron flow mechanisms in the syntrophic association of Geobacter metallireducens and Geobacter sulfurreducens. Genome-scale modelling of direct interspecies electron transfer reveals insights into the energetics of electron transfer mechanisms. While G. sulfurreducens adapts to rapid syntrophic growth by changes at the genomic and transcriptomic level, G. metallireducens responds only at the transcriptomic level. This multi-omic approach enhances our understanding of adaptive responses and factors that shape the evolution of syntrophic communities.
    Nature Communications 11/2013; 4:2809. DOI:10.1038/ncomms3809 · 10.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Geobacter species are among the most efficient current-producing bacterial species, yet their electron-transfer mechanisms have been scarcely investigated at themolecular level.Here,we provide evidence that Geobacter cells secrete and utilize riboflavin as a bound-cofactor in outer-membrane c-type cytochromes. This finding highlights the potential roles of riboflavin as a major electron carrier in current production.
    Energy & Environmental Science 01/2014; 7(4). DOI:10.1039/C3EE43674H · 15.49 Impact Factor


Available from

Jessica Butler