ABSTRACT: Bacterial growth under oxygen-limited (microaerobic) conditions is often accompanied by phenomena of great interest for fundamental research and industrial application. The microaerobic lifestyle of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria like Rhodospirillum rubrum harbors such a phenomenon, as it allows the formation of photosynthetic membranes and related interesting products without light. However, due to the technical difficulties in process control of microaerobic cultivations and the limited sensitivity of available oxygen sensors, the analysis of microaerobic growth and physiology is still underrepresented in current research. The main focus of the present study was to establish an experimental set-up for the systematic study of physiological processes, associated with the growth of R. rubrum under microaerobic conditions in the dark. For this purpose, we introduce a robust and reliable microaerobic process control strategy, which applies the culture redox potential (CRP) for assessing different degrees of oxygen limitation in bioreactor cultivations. To describe the microaerobic growth behavior of R. rubrum cultures for each of these defined CRP reduction steps, basic growth parameters were experimentally determined. Flux variability analysis provided an insight into the metabolic activity of the TCA cycle and implied its connection to the respiratory capacity of the cells. In this context, our results suggest that microaerobic growth of R. rubrum can be described as an oxygen-activated cooperative mechanism. The present study thus contributes to the investigation of metabolic and regulatory events responsible for the redox-sensitive formation of photosynthetic membranes in facultative photosynthetic bacteria. Furthermore, the introduced microaerobic cultivation setup should be generally applicable for any microbial system of interest which can be cultivated in common stirred-tank bioreactors. Biotechnol. Bioeng. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering 10/2012; · 3.95 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: Purple nonsulfur bacteria (PNSB) are facultative photosynthetic bacteria and exhibit an extremely versatile metabolism. A central focus of research on PNSB dealt with the elucidation of mechanisms by which they manage to balance cellular redox under diverse conditions, in particular under photoheterotrophic growth.
Given the complexity of the central metabolism of PNSB, metabolic modeling becomes crucial for an integrated analysis of the accumulated biological knowledge. We reconstructed a stoichiometric model capturing the central metabolism of three important representatives of PNSB (Rhodospirillum rubrum, Rhodobacter sphaeroides and Rhodopseudomonas palustris). Using flux variability analysis, the model reveals key metabolic constraints related to redox homeostasis in these bacteria. With the help of the model we can (i) give quantitative explanations for non-intuitive, partially species-specific phenomena of photoheterotrophic growth of PNSB, (ii) reproduce various quantitative experimental data, and (iii) formulate several new hypotheses. For example, model analysis of photoheterotrophic growth reveals that--despite a large number of utilizable catabolic pathways--substrate-specific biomass and CO₂ yields are fixed constraints, irrespective of the assumption of optimal growth. Furthermore, our model explains quantitatively why a CO₂ fixing pathway such as the Calvin cycle is required by PNSB for many substrates (even if CO₂ is released). We also analyze the role of other pathways potentially involved in redox metabolism and how they affect quantitatively the required capacity of the Calvin cycle. Our model also enables us to discriminate between different acetate assimilation pathways that were proposed recently for R. sphaeroides and R. rubrum, both lacking the isocitrate lyase. Finally, we demonstrate the value of the metabolic model also for potential biotechnological applications: we examine the theoretical capabilities of PNSB for photoheterotrophic hydrogen production and identify suitable genetic interventions to increase the hydrogen yield.
Taken together, the metabolic model (i) explains various redox-related phenomena of the versatile metabolism of PNSB, (ii) delivers new hypotheses on the operation and relevance of several metabolic pathways, and (iii) holds significant potential as a tool for rational metabolic engineering of PNSB in biotechnological applications.
BMC Systems Biology 09/2011; 5:150. · 3.15 Impact Factor
German Conference on Bioinformatics 2010, September 20-22, 2010, Technische Universität Carolo Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig, Germany; 01/2010