ABSTRACT: Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, an endophyte isolated from sugarcane, is a strict aerobe that fixates N(2). This process is catalyzed by nitrogenase and requires copious amounts of ATP. Nitrogenase activity is extremely sensitive to inhibition by oxygen and reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, the elevated oxidative metabolic rates required to sustain biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) may favor an increased production of ROS. Here, we explored this paradox and observed that ROS levels are, in fact, decreased in nitrogen-fixing cells due to the up-regulation of transcript levels of six ROS-detoxifying genes. A cluster analyses based on common expression patterns revealed the existence of a stable cluster with 99.8% similarity made up of the genes encoding the α-subunit of nitrogenase Mo-Fe protein (nifD), superoxide dismutase (sodA) and catalase type E (katE). Finally, nitrogenase activity was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by paraquat, a redox cycler that increases cellular ROS levels. Our data revealed that ROS can strongly inhibit nitrogenase activity, and G. diazotrophicus alters its redox metabolism during BNF by increasing antioxidant transcript levels resulting in a lower ROS generation. We suggest that careful controlled ROS production during this critical phase is an adaptive mechanism to allow nitrogen fixation.
Archives of Microbiology 10/2010; 192(10):835-41. · 1.43 Impact Factor