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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


Pyrobaculum islandicum uses iron, thiosulfate, and elemental sulfur for anaerobic respiration, while Pyrobaculum aerophilum uses iron and nitrate; however, the constraints on these processes and their physiological mechanisms for iron and sulfur reduction are not well understood. Growth rates on sulfur compounds are highest at pH 5 to 6 and highly reduced (<−420-mV) conditions, while growth rates on nitrate and iron are highest at pH 7 to 9 and more-oxidized (>−210-mV) conditions. Growth on iron expands the known pH range of growth for both organisms. P. islandicum differs from P. aerophilum in that it requires direct contact with insoluble iron oxide for growth, it did not produce any extracellular compounds when grown on insoluble iron, and it lacked 2,6-anthrahydroquinone disulfonate oxidase activity. Furthermore, iron reduction in P. islandicum appears to be completely independent of c-type cytochromes. Like that in P. aerophilum, NADH-dependent ferric reductase activity in P. islandicum increased significantly in iron-grown cultures relative to that in non-iron-grown cultures. Proteomic analyses showed that there were significant increases in the amounts of a putative membrane-bound thiosulfate reductase in P. islandicum cultures grown on thiosulfate relative to those in cultures grown on iron and elemental sulfur. This is the first evidence of this enzyme being used in either a hyperthermophile or an archaeon. Pyrobaculum arsenaticum and Pyrobaculum calidifontis also grew on Fe(III) citrate and insoluble iron oxide, but only P. arsenaticum could grow on insoluble iron without direct contact.