Oxidation of Molecular Hydrogen by a Chemolithoautotrophic Beggiatoa Strain

  • Kreutzmann A
  • Schulz-Vogt H
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Abstract

A chemolithoautotrophic strain of the family Beggiatoaceae , Beggiatoa sp. strain 35Flor, was found to oxidize molecular hydrogen when grown in a medium with diffusional gradients of oxygen, sulfide, and hydrogen. Microsensor profiles and rate measurements suggested that the strain oxidized hydrogen aerobically when oxygen was available, while hydrogen consumption under anoxic conditions was presumably driven by sulfur respiration. Beggiatoa sp. 35Flor reached significantly higher biomass in hydrogen-supplemented oxygen-sulfide gradient media, but hydrogen did not support growth of the strain in the absence of reduced sulfur compounds. Nevertheless, hydrogen oxidation can provide Beggiatoa sp. 35Flor with energy for maintenance and assimilatory purposes and may support the disposal of internally stored sulfur to prevent physical damage resulting from excessive sulfur accumulation. Our knowledge about the exposure of natural populations of Beggiatoaceae to hydrogen is very limited, but significant amounts of hydrogen could be provided by nitrogen fixation, fermentation, and geochemical processes in several of their typical habitats such as photosynthetic microbial mats and submarine sites of hydrothermal fluid flow. IMPORTANCE Reduced sulfur compounds are certainly the main electron donors for chemolithoautotrophic Beggiatoaceae , but the traditional focus on this topic has left other possible inorganic electron donors largely unexplored. In this paper, we provide evidence that hydrogen oxidation has the potential to strengthen the ecophysiological plasticity of Beggiatoaceae in several ways. Moreover, we show that hydrogen oxidation by members of this family can significantly influence biogeochemical gradients and therefore should be considered in environmental studies.

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Kreutzmann, A.-C., & Schulz-Vogt, H. N. (2016). Oxidation of Molecular Hydrogen by a Chemolithoautotrophic Beggiatoa Strain. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(8), 2527–2536. https://doi.org/10.1128/aem.03818-15

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