A novel mechanism for dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in Acididesulfobacillus acetoxydans

A.R. Egas, J.M. Kurth, J.A. Boeren, D.Z. Sousa, C.U. Welte, I. Sanchez Andrea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The biological route of nitrate reduction has important implications for the bioavailability of nitrogen within ecosystems. Nitrate reduction via nitrite, either to ammonium (ammonification) or to nitrous oxide or dinitrogen (denitrification), determines whether nitrogen is retained within the system or lost as a gas. The acidophilic sulfate-reducing bacterium (aSRB) Acididesulfobacillus acetoxydans can perform dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA). While encoding a Nar-type nitrate reductase, A. acetoxydans lacks recognized nitrite reductase genes. In this study, A. acetoxydans was cultivated under conditions conducive to DNRA. During cultivations, we monitored the production of potential nitrogen intermediates (nitrate, nitrite, nitric oxide, hydroxylamine, and ammonium). Resting cell experiments were performed with nitrate, nitrite, and hydroxylamine to confirm their reduction to ammonium, and formed intermediates were tracked. To identify the enzymes involved in DNRA, comparative transcriptomics and proteomics were performed with A. acetoxydans growing under nitrate- and sulfate-reducing conditions. Nitrite is likely reduced to ammonia by the previously undescribed nitrite reductase activity of the NADH-linked sulfite reductase AsrABC, or by a putatively ferredoxin-dependent homolog of the nitrite reductase NirA (DEACI_1836), or both. We identified enzymes and intermediates not previously associated with DNRA and nitrosative stress in aSRB. This increases our knowledge about the metabolism of this type of bacteria and helps the interpretation of (meta)genome data from various ecosystems on their DNRA potential and the nitrogen cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Early online date7 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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