A severe reduction in the cytochrome C content of Geobacter sulfurreducens eliminates its capacity for extracellular electron transfer

Marta Estevez-Canales, Akiyoshi Kuzume, Zulema Borjas, Michael Füeg, Derek Lovley, Thomas Wandlowski, Abraham Esteve-Núñez
Environmental Microbiology Reports 2015, 7 (2): 219-26
The ability of Geobacter species to transfer electrons outside the cell enables them to play an important role in a number of biogeochemical and bioenergy processes. Gene deletion studies have implicated periplasmic and outer-surface c-type cytochromes in this extracellular electron transfer. However, even when as many as five c-type cytochrome genes have been deleted, some capacity for extracellular electron transfer remains. In order to evaluate the role of c-type cytochromes in extracellular electron transfer, Geobacter sulfurreducens was grown in a low-iron medium that included the iron chelator (2,2'-bipyridine) to further sequester iron. Haem-staining revealed that the cytochrome content of cells grown in this manner was 15-fold lower than in cells exposed to a standard iron-containing medium. The low cytochrome abundance was confirmed by in situ nanoparticle-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (NERS). The cytochrome-depleted cells reduced fumarate to succinate as well as the cytochrome-replete cells do, but were unable to reduce Fe(III) citrate or to exchange electrons with a graphite electrode. These results demonstrate that c-type cytochromes are essential for extracellular electron transfer by G. sulfurreducens. The strategy for growing cytochrome-depleted G. sulfurreducens will also greatly aid future physiological studies of Geobacter species and other microorganisms capable of extracellular electron transfer.

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