, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 693–703 | Cite as

Cobalt binding in the photosynthetic bacterium R. sphaeroides by X-ray absorption spectroscopy

  • Benny D. Belviso
  • Francesca Italiano
  • Rocco Caliandro
  • Benedetta Carrozzini
  • Alessandra Costanza
  • Massimo Trotta


Cobalt is an important oligoelement required for bacteria; if present in high concentration, exhibits toxic effects that, depending on the microorganism under investigation, may even result in growth inhibition. The photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter (R.) sphaeroides tolerates high cobalt concentration and bioaccumulates Co2+ ion, mostly on the cellular surface. Very little is known on the chemical fate of the bioaccumulated cobalt, thus an X-ray absorption spectroscopy investigation was conducted on R. sphaeroides cells to gain structural insights into the Co2+ binding to cellular components. X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy and extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements were performed on R. sphaeroides samples containing whole cells and cell-free fractions obtained from cultures exposed to 5 mM Co2+. An octahedral coordination geometry was found for the cobalt ion, with six oxygen-ligand atoms in the first shell. In the soluble portion of the cell, cobalt was found bound to carboxylate groups, while a mixed pattern containing equivalent amount of two sulfur and two carbon atoms was found in the cell envelope fraction, suggesting the presence of carboxylate and sulfonate metal-binding functional groups, the latter arising from sulfolipids of the cell envelope.


Cobalt coordination Membrane Sulfolipids Rhodobacter sphaeroides EXAFS 



Ralph Steininger and Joerg Goettlicher at SUL-X beamline at ANKA are greatly acknowledged (Project ENV-219). Support for this work was obtained by the Italian Ministry of Research Education and Education (PRIN 2009) and by COST Action CM0902 Molecular machinery for ion translocation across the membrane.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benny D. Belviso
    • 1
  • Francesca Italiano
    • 2
  • Rocco Caliandro
    • 1
  • Benedetta Carrozzini
    • 1
  • Alessandra Costanza
    • 3
  • Massimo Trotta
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto di CristallografiaConsiglio Nazionale delle RicercheBariItaly
  2. 2.Istituto per i Processi Chimico FisiciConsiglio Nazionale delle RicercheBariItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità Aldo Moro di BariBariItaly

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