, Volume 172, Issue 2, pp 116-124

Chlorobium ferrooxidans sp. nov., a phototrophic green sulfur bacterium that oxidizes ferrous iron in coculture with a “Geospirillum” sp. strain

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Abstract

A green phototrophic bacterium was enriched with ferrous iron as sole electron donor and was isolated in defined coculture with a spirilloid chemoheterotrophic bacterium. The coculture oxidized ferrous iron to ferric iron with stoichiometric formation of cell mass from carbon dioxide. Sulfide, thiosulfate, or elemental sulfur was not used as electron donor in the light. Hydrogen or acetate in the presence of ferrous iron increased the cell yield of the phototrophic partner, and hydrogen could also be used as sole electron source. Complexed ferric iron was slowly reduced to ferrous iron in the dark, with hydrogen as electron source. Similar to Chlorobium limicola, the phototrophic bacterium contained bacteriochlorophyll c and chlorobactene as photosynthetic pigments, and also resembled representatives of this species morphologically. On the basis of 16S rRNA sequence comparisons, this organism clusters with Chlorobium, Prosthecochloris, and Pelodictyon species within the green sulfur bacteria phylum. Since the phototrophic partner in the coculture KoFox is only moderately related to the other members of the cluster, it is proposed as a new species, Chlorobium ferrooxidans. The chemoheterotrophic partner bacterium, strain KoFum, was isolated in pure culture with fumarate as sole substrate. The strain was identified as a member of the ɛ-subclass of the Proteobacteria closely related to “Geospirillum arsenophilum” on the basis of physiological properties and 16S rRNA sequence comparison. The “Geospirillum” strain was present in the coculture only in low numbers. It fermented fumarate, aspartate, malate, or pyruvate to acetate, succinate, and carbon dioxide, and could reduce nitrate to dinitrogen gas. It was not involved in ferrous iron oxidation but possibly provided a thus far unidentified growth factor to the phototrophic partner.

Received: 17 November 1998 / Accepted: 26 April 1999