Acetic acid stress response of the acidophilic sulfate reducer Acididesulfobacillus acetoxydans

Reinier A. Egas, Diana X. Sahonero-Canavesi, Nicole J. Bale, Michel Koenen, Çağlar Yildiz, Laura Villanueva, Diana Z. Sousa, Irene Sánchez-Andrea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Acid mine drainage (AMD) waters are a severe environmental threat, due to their high metal content and low pH (pH <3). Current technologies treating AMD utilize neutrophilic sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRMs), but acidophilic SRM could offer advantages. As AMDs are low in organics these processes require electron donor addition, which is often incompletely oxidized into organic acids (e.g., acetic acid). At low pH, acetic acid is undissociated and toxic to microorganisms. We investigated the stress response of the acetotrophic Acididesulfobacillus acetoxydans to acetic acid. A. acetoxydans was cultivated in bioreactors at pH 5.0 (optimum). For stress experiments, triplicate reactors were spiked until 7.5 mM of acetic acid and compared with (non-spiked) triplicate reactors for physiological, transcriptomic, and membrane lipid changes. After acetic acid spiking, the optical density initially dropped, followed by an adaptation phase during which growth resumed at a lower growth rate. Transcriptome analysis revealed a downregulation of genes involved in glutamate and aspartate synthesis following spiking. Membrane lipid analysis revealed a decrease in iso and anteiso fatty acid relative abundance; and an increase of acetyl-CoA as a fatty acid precursor. These adaptations allow A. acetoxydans to detoxify acetic acid, creating milder conditions for other microorganisms in AMD environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16565
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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