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Bacteria forge nitrogen from nitric oxide
Date:10/5/2011

s rather than in biofilms on surfaces, and relatively few contaminating organisms are present. The study makes use of protein purification and proteins cannot be effectively purified from biofilms because of the large amount of slime associated with these biofilms.

Another important key to the metabolism was the availability of the genome sequence of one of the best known anammox bacteria, Kuenenia stuttgartiensis. With the knowledge of the genome, the authors knew which proteins could be important. Based on the genome sequence, they could predict that nitric oxide, not hydroxylamine, might be the precursor for hydrazine. With a set of state-of-the art molecular methods the scientists could thus completely unravel the anammox pathway, and unequivocally establish the role of hydrazine and nitric oxide (NO) as intermediates.

"With this significant advance we can finally understand how the nitrogen in the air we breathe is created: from rocket fuel and nitric oxide!" concludes Marc Strous. With the establishment of the prominent role of nitric oxide in both anammox and denitrification, the research also opens a new window on the evolution of the biological nitrogen cycle in the Earth's distant past. Marc Strous explains: "In the early days in Earth's history, the nitric oxide accumulated in the atmosphere by vulcanic activity, was presumably the first "deep electron sink" on earth and may so have enabled the evolution of both microbial metabolic pathways anammox and denitrification."


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Contact: Marc Strous
mstrous@mpi-bremen.de
49-421-202-8822
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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