Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 1109–1118 | Cite as

Effects of biocides on gene expression in the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough

  • Meng-Hsin Phoebe Lee
  • Sean M. Caffrey
  • Johanna K. Voordouw
  • Gerrit Voordouw
Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology


Although sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), such as Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough (DvH) are often eradicated in oil and gas operations with biocides, such as glutaraldehyde (Glut), tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium sulfate (THPS), and benzalkonium chloride (BAC), their response to these agents is not well known. Whole genome microarrays of D. vulgaris treated with biocides well below the minimum inhibitory concentration showed that 256, 96, and 198 genes were responsive to Glut, THPS, and BAC, respectively, and that these three commonly used biocides affect the physiology of the cell quite differently. Glut induces expression of genes required to degrade or refold proteins inactivated by either chemical modification or heat shock, whereas BAC appears to target ribosomal structure. THPS appears to primarily affect energy metabolism of SRB. Mutants constructed for genes strongly up-regulated by Glut, were killed by Glut to a similar degree as the wild type. Hence, it is difficult to achieve increased sensitivity to this biocide by single gene mutations, because Glut affects so many targets. Our results increase understanding of the biocide's mode of action, allowing a more intelligent combination of mechanistically different agents. This can reduce stress on budgets for chemicals and on the environment.


Biocide Souring Sulfide Sulfate SRB Gene expression Microarray 



This work was supported by a Strategic Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) with financial support from The Dow Chemical Company, as well as by an NSERC Industrial Research Chair Award to GV, which was also supported by Baker Hughes Incorporated, Commercial Microbiology Limited (Intertek), the Computer Modelling Group Limited, ConocoPhillips Company, YPF SA, Aramco Services, Shell Canada Limited, Suncor Energy Developments Inc., and Yara International ASA, as well as by the Alberta Energy Research Institute. We would like to thank Drs. Steve Najmy and Michael Enzien from The Dow Chemical Company for their interest, comments and useful suggestions.

Supplementary material

253_2010_2596_MOESM1_ESM.doc (980 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 980 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meng-Hsin Phoebe Lee
    • 1
  • Sean M. Caffrey
    • 1
  • Johanna K. Voordouw
    • 1
  • Gerrit Voordouw
    • 1
  1. 1.Petroleum Microbiology Research Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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