Fermentation and sulfur reduction in the mat-building cyanobacterium Microcoleus; chthonoplastes

R. Moezelaar, S.M. Bijvank, L.J. Stal

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    The mat-building cyanobacterium Microcoleus chthonoplastes carried out a mixed-acid fermentation when incubated under anoxic conditions in the dark. Endogenous storage carbohydrate was fermented to acetate, ethanol, formate, lactate, H(inf2), and CO(inf2). Cells with a low glycogen content (about 0.3 (mu)mol of glucose per mg of protein) produced acetate and ethanol in equimolar amounts. In addition to glycogen, part of the osmoprotectant, glucosyl-glycerol, was degraded. The glucose component of glucosyl-glycerol was fermented, whereas glycerol was released into the medium. Cells with a high content of glycogen (about 2 (mu)mol of glucose per mg of protein) did not utilize glucosyl-glycerol. These cells produced more acetate than ethanol. M. chthonoplastes was also capable of using elemental sulfur as the electron acceptor during fermentation, resulting in the production of sulfide. With sulfur present, acetate production increased whereas ethanol production decreased. Also, less formate was produced and the evolution of hydrogen ceased completely. In general, the carbon recoveries were satisfactory but the oxidation-reduction balances were too high. The latter could be explained by assuming the reduction of ferric iron, which is associated with the cells, mediated by the oxidation of formate. The switch from photoautotrophic to fermentative metabolism did not require de novo protein synthesis, and fermentation started immediately upon transfer to dark anoxic conditions. From the molar ratios of the fermentation products and from measurement of enzyme activities in cell extracts, we concluded that glucose derived from glycogen and glucosyl-glycerol is degraded via the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1752-1758
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


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