Solubilization of zinc phosphate by a strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens isolated from a forest soil
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A strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens, able to solubilize zinc phosphate, was isolated from a forest soil. Colonies of the microorganism produced clear haloes on solid medium incorporating zinc phosphate, but only when glucose was provided as the carbon source. Solubilization of zinc phosphate occurred by both an increase in the H+ concentration of the medium, probably a consequence of ammonia assimilation, and the production of gluconic acid. High concentrations of gluconic acid were produced when P. fluorescens 3a was cultured in the presence of zinc phosphate. Although under some conditions gluconic acid is purportedly able to solubilize metals by the formation of chelates, no evidence of zinc chelation was obtained in our experiments. Furthermore, the increased Zn2+ concentration caused by the solubilization process resulted in the manifestation of toxic effects on the culture. A sample of the culture, sonicated to disrupt cells, still possessed the ability to produce gluconic acid from glucose, in the presence and absence of zinc phosphate. The lack of gluconic acid overproduction in cultures of P. fluorescens 3a which were not amended with zinc phosphate suggests that at least some of the glucose oxidation required for the zinc solubilization occurred as a result of the toxic stress caused by the high Zn2+ concentration.
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