Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 161–168 | Cite as

Oxidation of reduced sulphur compounds by intact cells of Thiobacillus acidophilus

  • Rogier Meulenberg
  • Jack T. Pronk
  • Wim Hazeu
  • Piet Bos
  • J. Gijs Kuenen
Original Papers


Oxidation of reduced sulphur compounds by Thiobacillus acidophilus was studied with cell suspensions from heterotrophic and mixotrophic chemostat cultures. Maximum substrate-dependent oxygen uptake rates and affinities observed with cell suspensions from mixotrophic cultures were higher than with heterotrophically grown cells. ph Optima for oxidation of sulphur compounds fell within the pH range for growth (pH 2–5), except for sulphite oxidation (optimum at pH 5.5). During oxidation of sulphide by cell suspensions, intermediary sulphur was formed. Tetrathionate was formed as an intermediate during aerobic incubation with thiosulphate and trithionate. Whether or not sulphite is an inter-mediate during sulphur compound oxidation by T. acidophilus remains unclear. Experiments with anaerobic cell suspensions of T. acidophilus revealed that trithionate metabolism was initiated by a hydrolytic cleavage yielding thiosulphate and sulphate. A hydrolytic cleavage was also implicated in the metabolism of tetrathionate. After anaerobic incubation of T. acidophilus with tetrathionate, the substrate was completely converted to equimolar amounts of thiosulphate, sulphur and sulphate. Sulphide- and sulphite oxidation were partly inhibited by the protonophore uncouplers 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) and carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) and by the sulfhydryl-binding agent N-ethylmaleimide (NEM). Oxidation of elemental sulphur was completely inhibited by these compounds. Oxidation of thiosulphate, tetrathionate and trithionate was only slightly affected. The possible localization of the different enzyme systems involved in sulphur compound oxidation by T. acidophilus is discussed.

Key words

Thiobacillus acidophilus Acidophiles Sulphur metabolism Sulphide Elemental sulphur Thiosulphate Tetrathionate Trithionate Sulphite Hydrolytic polythionate cleavage 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rogier Meulenberg
    • 1
  • Jack T. Pronk
    • 1
  • Wim Hazeu
    • 1
  • Piet Bos
    • 1
  • J. Gijs Kuenen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Enzymology, Kluyver Laboratory of BiotechnologyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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