Electron carriers in microbial sulfate reduction inferred from experimental and environmental sulfur isotope fractionations
Dissimilatory sulfate reduction (DSR) has been a key process influencing the global carbon cycle, atmospheric composition and climate for much of Earth’s history, yet the energy metabolism of sulfate-reducing microbes remains poorly understood. Many organisms, particularly sulfate reducers, live in low-energy environments and metabolize at very low rates, requiring specific physiological adaptations. We identify one such potential adaptation—the electron carriers selected for survival under energy-limited conditions. Employing a quantitative biochemical-isotopic model, we find that the large S isotope fractionations (>55‰) observed in a wide range of natural environments and culture experiments at low respiration rates are only possible when the standard-state Gibbs free energy (ΔG′°) of all steps during DSR is more positive than −10 kJ mol−1. This implies that at low respiration rates, only electron carriers with modestly negative reduction potentials are involved, such as menaquinone, rubredoxin, rubrerythrin or some flavodoxins. Furthermore, the constraints from S isotope fractionation imply that ferredoxins with a strongly negative reduction potential cannot be the direct electron donor to S intermediates at low respiration rates. Although most sulfate reducers have the genetic potential to express a variety of electron carriers, our results suggest that a key physiological adaptation of sulfate reducers to low-energy environments is to use electron carriers with modestly negative reduction potentials.
Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/ismej2017185
Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.
Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.