Quantifying expression of Geobacter spp. oxidative stress genes in pure culture and during in situ uranium bioremediation

Paula J Mouser, Dawn E Holmes, Lorrie A Perpetua, Raymond DiDonato, Brad Postier, Anna Liu, Derek R Lovley
ISME Journal 2009, 3 (4): 454-65
As part of an effort to diagnose the physiological status of Geobacter species during in situ bioremediation of uranium-contaminated groundwater, transcript levels for two genes potentially associated with oxidative stress, cydA and sodA, were quantified throughout a bioremediation field study in Rifle, CO, USA. Despite the accumulation of Fe(II) in the groundwater, which is inconsistent with the presence of dissolved oxygen, both genes were highly expressed during the bioremediation process. Therefore, the response to oxidative stress was further evaluated with Geobacter uraniireducens, an isolate from the Rifle site. When G. uraniireducens cultured with fumarate as the electron acceptor was exposed to 5% oxygen for 8 h, there was a significant increase in cydA and sodA transcripts as well as other genes associated with oxygen respiration or oxidative stress. Oxygen-exposed cells had lower transcript abundance for genes associated with anaerobic respiration, metabolism and motility. Short-term oxygen exposure had little impact on cydA transcript levels, as more than 1 h was required for increases to levels comparable to the subsurface. Abundance of cydA and sodA transcripts for the isolate G. sulfurreducens were always higher in cells cultured with Fe(III) compared with fumarate as an electron acceptor, even when fumarate-grown cells were exposed to oxygen, and Fe(III)-grown cells were grown anaerobically. These results suggest that the apparently high Geobacter cydA and sodA expression during bioremediation cannot necessarily be attributed to oxidative stress and demonstrate that diagnosis of the metabolic status of subsurface microorganisms through transcript analysis should be coupled with appropriate geochemical analyses.

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