The type strain of the mineral-oxidizing acidophilic bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferridurans was grown in liquid medium containing elevated concentrations of sodium chloride with hydrogen as electron donor. While it became more tolerant to chloride, after about 1 year, the salt-stressed acidophile was found to have lost its ability to oxidize iron, though not sulfur or hydrogen. Detailed molecular examination revealed that this was due to an insertion sequence, ISAfd1, which belongs to the ISPepr1 subgroup of the IS4 family, having been inserted downstream of the two promoters PI and PII of the rus operon (which codes for the iron oxidation pathway in this acidophile), thereby preventing its transcription. The ability to oxidize iron was regained on protracted incubation of the culture inoculated onto salt-free solid medium containing ferrous iron and incubated under hydrogen. Two revertant strains were obtained. In one, the insertion sequence ISAfd1 had been excised, leaving an 11-bp signature, while in the other an ~2,500-bp insertion sequence (belonging to the IS66 family) was detected in the downstream inverted repeat of ISAfd1. The transcriptional start site of the rus operon in the second revertant strain was downstream of the two ISs, due to the creation of a new "hybrid" promoter. The loss and subsequent regaining of the ability of A. ferriduransT to reduce ferric iron were concurrent with those observed for ferrous iron oxidation, suggesting that these two traits are closely linked in this acidophile.
Bibliographical noteFree access.
- Insertion sequence
- Iron oxidation
- Iron reduction
- Salt stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology