Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 135-140

First online:

Assimilatory nitrate uptake in Pseudomonas fluorescens studied using nitrogen-13

  • Michael R. BetlachAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Public Health, Michigan State University
  • , James M. TiedjeAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Public Health, Michigan State UniversityDepartment of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University
  • , Richard B. FirestoneAffiliated withCyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University

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The mechanism of nitrate uptake for assimilation in procaryotes is not known. We used the radioactive isotope, 13N as NO3 -, to study this process in a prevalent soil bacterium, Pseudomonas fluorescens. Cultures grown on ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate failed to take up labeled nitrate, indicating ammonium repressed synthesis of the assimilatory enzymes. Cultures grown on nitrite or under ammonium limitation had measurable nitrate reductase activity, indicating that the assimilatory enzymes need not be induced by nitrate. In cultures with an active nitrate reductase, the form of 13N internally was ammonium and amino acids; the amino acid labeling pattern indicated that 13NO3 - was assimilated via glutamine synthetase and glutamate synthase. Cultures grown on tungstate to inactivate the reductase concentrated NO3 - at least sixfold. Chlorate had no effect on nitrate transport or assimilation, nor on reduction in cell-free extracts. Ammonium inhibited nitrate uptake in cells with and without active nitrate reductases, but had no effect on cell-free nitrate reduction, indicating the site of inhibition was nitrate transport into the cytoplasm. Nitrate assimilation in cells grown on nitrate and nitrate uptake into cells grown with tungstate on nitrite both followed Michaelis-Menten kinetics with similar K mvalues, 7 μM. Both azide and cyanide inhibited nitrate assimilation. Our findings suggest that Pseudomonas fluorescens can take up nitrate via active transport and that nitrate assimilation is both inhibited and repressed by ammonium.

Key words

Pseudomonas fluorescens Assimilatory nitrate reduction Nitrate reductase Nitrate uptake Active transport Nitrogen-13 Short-lived isotope