Degradation of p-nitrophenol by the phototrophic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus

M D Roldán, R Blasco, F J Caballero, F Castillo
Archives of Microbiology 1998, 169 (1): 36-42
The phototrophic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus detoxified p-nitrophenol and 4-nitrocatechol. The bacterium tolerated moderate concentrations of p-nitrophenol (up to 0.5 mM) and degraded it under light at an optimal O2 pressure of 20 kPa. The bacterium did not metabolize the xenobiotic in the dark or under strictly anoxic conditions or high O2 pressure. Bacterial growth with acetate in the presence of p-nitrophenol took place with the simultaneous release of nonstoichiometric amounts of 4-nitrocatechol, which can also be degraded by the bacterium. Crude extracts from R. capsulatus produced 4-nitrocatechol from p-nitrophenol upon the addition of NAD(P)H, although at a very low rate. A constitutive catechol 1, 2-dioxygenase activity yielding cis,cis-muconate was also detected in crude extracts of R. capsulatus. Further degradation of 4-nitrocatechol included both nitrite- and CO2-releasing steps since: (1) a strain of R. capsulatus (B10) unable to assimilate nitrate and nitrite released nitrite into the medium when grown with p-nitrophenol or 4-nitrocatechol, and the nitrite concentration was stoichiometric with the 4-nitrocatechol degraded, and (2) cultures of R. capsulatus growing microaerobically produced low amounts of 14CO2 from radiolabeled p-nitrophenol. The radioactivity was also incorporated into cellular compounds from cells grown with uniformly labeled 14C-p-nitrophenol. From these results we concluded that the xenobiotic is used as a carbon source by R. capsulatus, but that only the strain able to assimilate nitrite (E1F1) can use p-nitrophenol as a nitrogen source.

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