(Per)chlorate in Biology on Earth and Beyond

Matthew D Youngblut, Ouwei Wang, Tyler P Barnum, John D Coates
Annual Review of Microbiology 2016 September 8, 70: 435-57
Respiration of perchlorate and chlorate [collectively, (per)chlorate] was only recognized in the last 20 years, yet substantial advances have been made in our understanding of the underlying metabolisms. Although it was once considered solely anthropogenic, pervasive natural sources, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, indicate an ancient (per)chlorate presence across our solar system. These discoveries stimulated interest in (per)chlorate microbiology, and the application of advanced approaches highlights exciting new facets. Forward and reverse genetics revealed new information regarding underlying molecular biology and associated regulatory mechanisms. Structural and functional analysis characterized core enzymes and identified novel reaction sequences. Comparative genomics elucidated evolutionary aspects, and stress analysis identified novel response mechanisms to reactive chlorine species. Finally, systems biology identified unique metabolic versatility and novel mechanisms of (per)chlorate respiration, including symbiosis and a hybrid enzymatic-abiotic metabolism. While many published studies focus on (per)chlorate and their basic metabolism, this review highlights seminal advances made over the last decade and identifies new directions and potential novel applications.

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