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Transferable denitrification capability of thermus thermophilus

AuthorsÁlvarez, Laura ; Bricio, Carlos; Blesa, Alba ; Hidalgo, Aurelio ; Berenguer, José
Issue Date2014
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationApplied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 19- 28 (2014)
AbstractLaboratory-adapted strains of Thermus spp. have been shown to require oxygen for growth, including the model strains T. thermophilus HB27 and HB8. In contrast, many isolates of this species that have not been intensively grown under laboratory conditions keep the capability to grow anaerobically with one or more electron acceptors. The use of nitrogen oxides, especially nitrate, as electron acceptors is one of the most widespread capabilities among these facultative strains. In this process, nitrate is reduced to nitrite by a reductase (Nar) that also functions as electron transporter toward nitrite and nitric oxide reductases when nitrate is scarce, effectively replacing respiratory complex III. In many T. thermophilus denitrificant strains, most electrons for Nar are provided by a new class of NADH dehydrogenase (Nrc). The ability to reduce nitrite to NO and subsequently to N2O by the corresponding Nir and Nor reductases is also strain specific. The genes encoding the capabilities for nitrate (nar) and nitrite (nir and nor) respiration are easily transferred between T. thermophilus strains by natural competence or by a conjugation-like process and may be easily lost upon continuous growth under aerobic conditions. The reason for this instability is apparently related to the fact that these metabolic capabilities are encoded in gene cluster islands, which are delimited by insertion sequences and integrated within highly variable regions of easily transferable extrachromosomal elements. Together with the chromosomal genes, these plasmid-associated genetic islands constitute the extended pangenome of T. thermophilus that provides this species with an enhanced capability to adapt to changing environments. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1128/AEM.02594-13
issn: 0099-2240
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