, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 57-63

Differential Influence of Ions on the Copy Number of Plasmids in Thiobacillus ferrooxidans

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Thiobacillus ferrooxidans MAL4-1, an isolate from Malanjkhand copper mines, India, was adapted to grow in the presence of high concentration (30 gL−1) of Cu2+, resulting in a 15-fold increase in its tolerance to Cu2+. While wild-type T. ferrooxidans MAL4-1 contained multiple plasmids, cultures adapted to Cu2+ concentrations of 20 gL−1 or more showed a drastic reduction in the copy number of the plasmids. The reduction for three of the plasmids was estimated to be over 50-fold. Examination of the plasmid profiles of the strains adapted to high concentration of SO4 2− anion (as Na2SO4 or ZnSO4) indicated that the reduction in plasmid copy number is not owing to SO4 2− anion, but is specific for Cu2+. The effect of mercury on the plasmids was similar to that of copper. Deadaptation of the Cu2+- or Hg2+-adapted T. ferrooxidans resulted in restoration of the plasmids to the original level within the first passage. The fact that the plasmid copy number, in general, is drastically reduced in Cu2+-adapted T. ferrooxidans suggests that resistance to copper is chromosome mediated. This is the first report of a selective negative influence of copper ions on the copy number of plasmids in T. ferrooxidans.