Transcriptomic and genetic analysis of direct interspecies electron transfer

Pravin Malla Shrestha, Amelia-Elena Rotaru, Zarath M Summers, Minita Shrestha, Fanghua Liu, Derek R Lovley
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2013, 79 (7): 2397-404
The possibility that metatranscriptomic analysis could distinguish between direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) and H2 interspecies transfer (HIT) in anaerobic communities was investigated by comparing gene transcript abundance in cocultures in which Geobacter sulfurreducens was the electron-accepting partner for either Geobacter metallireducens, which performs DIET, or Pelobacter carbinolicus, which relies on HIT. Transcript abundance for G. sulfurreducens uptake hydrogenase genes was 7-fold lower in cocultures with G. metallireducens than in cocultures with P. carbinolicus, consistent with DIET and HIT, respectively, in the two cocultures. Transcript abundance for the pilus-associated cytochrome OmcS, which is essential for DIET but not for HIT, was 240-fold higher in the cocultures with G. metallireducens than in cocultures with P. carbinolicus. The pilin gene pilA was moderately expressed despite a mutation that might be expected to repress pilA expression. Lower transcript abundance for G. sulfurreducens genes associated with acetate metabolism in the cocultures with P. carbinolicus was consistent with the repression of these genes by H2 during HIT. Genes for the biogenesis of pili and flagella and several c-type cytochrome genes were among the most highly expressed in G. metallireducens. Mutant strains that lacked the ability to produce pili, flagella, or the outer surface c-type cytochrome encoded by Gmet_2896 were not able to form cocultures with G. sulfurreducens. These results demonstrate that there are unique gene expression patterns that distinguish DIET from HIT and suggest that metatranscriptomics may be a promising route to investigate interspecies electron transfer pathways in more-complex environments.

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