AbstractNitrate leaching from agricultural soils is increasingly found in groundwater, a primary source of drinking water worldwide. This nitrate influx can potentially stimulate the biological oxidation of iron in anoxic groundwater reservoirs. Nitrate-reducing iron-oxidizing (NRFO) bacteria have been extensively studied in laboratory settings, yet their ecophysiology in natural environments remains largely unknown. To this end, we established a pilot-scale filter on nitrate-rich groundwater to elucidate the structure and metabolism of nitrate-reducing iron-oxidizing microbiomes under oligotrophic conditions mimicking natural groundwaters. The enriched community stoichiometrically removed iron and nitrate consistently with NRFO metabolism. Genome-resolved metagenomics revealed the underlying metabolic network between the dominant iron-dependent denitrifying autotrophs and the less abundant organoheterotrophs. The most abundant genome belonged to a newCandidateorder, named Siderophiliales. This new species, “CandidatusSiderophilus nitratireducens”, carries central genes to iron oxidation (cytochromec cyc2), carbon fixation (rbc), and for the sole periplasmic nitrate reductase (nap). To our knowledge, this is the first report ofnap-based lithoautotrophic growth, and we demonstrate that iron oxidation coupled to dissimilatory reduction of nitrate to nitrite is thermodynamically favourable under realistic Fe3+/Fe2+andconcentration ratios. Ultimately, by bridging the gap between laboratory investigations and real-world conditions, this study provides insights into the intricate interplay between nitrate and iron in groundwater ecosystems, and expands our understanding of NRFOs taxonomic diversity and ecological role.
Here, we demonstrate how microbial storage metabolism can adjust to a wide range of environmental conditions. Such flexibility generates a selective advantage under fluctuating environmental conditions. It can also explain the different observations reported in PAO literature, including the capacity of “
. Accumulibacter phosphatis” to act like glycogen-accumulating organisms (GAOs). These observations stem from slightly different experimental conditions, and controversy arises only when one assumes that metabolism can operate only in a single mode. Furthermore, we also show how the study of metabolic strategies is possible when combining omics data with functional cofactor assays and modeling. Genomic information can only provide the potential of a microorganism. The environmental context and other complementary approaches are still needed to study and predict the functional expression of such metabolic potential.
Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis is an important microorganism for enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). In a previous study, we found a remarkable flexibility regarding salinity, since this same microorganism could thrive in both freshwater- and seawater-based environments, but the mechanism for the tolerance to saline conditions remained unknown. Here, we identified and described the role of trehalose as an osmolyte in Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis. A freshwater-adapted culture was exposed to a single batch cycle of hyperosmotic and hypo-osmotic shock, which led to the release of trehalose up to 5.34 mg trehalose/g volatile suspended solids (VSS). Long-term adaptation to 30% seawater-based medium in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) gave a stable operation with complete anaerobic uptake of acetate and propionate along with phosphate release of 0.73 Pmol/Cmol, and complete aerobic uptake of phosphate. Microbial analysis showed Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis clade I as the dominant organism in both the freshwater- and seawater-adapted cultures (> 90% presence). Exposure of the seawater-adapted culture to a single batch cycle of hyperosmotic incubation and hypo-osmotic shock led to an increase in trehalose release upon hypo-osmotic shock when higher salinity is used for the hyperosmotic incubation. Maximum trehalose release upon hypo-osmotic shock was achieved after hyperosmotic incubation with 3× salinity increase relative to the salinity in the SBR adaptation reactor, resulting in the release of 11.9 mg trehalose/g VSS. Genome analysis shows the possibility of Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis to convert glycogen into trehalose by the presence of treX, treY, and treZ genes. Addition of trehalose to the reactor led to its consumption, both during anaerobic and aerobic phases. These results indicate the flexibility of the metabolism of Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis towards variations in salinity.
• Trehalose is identified as an osmolyte in Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis.
• Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis can convert glycogen into trehalose.
• Ca. Accumulibacter phosphatis clade I is present and active in both seawater and freshwater.
This study on
-galacturonate metabolism by open, mixed-culture enrichments under anaerobic,
-galacturonate-limited chemostat conditions shows a stable and efficient fermentation of
-galacturonate into acetate as the dominant organic fermentation product. This fermentation stoichiometry and population analyses provide a valuable baseline for interpretation of the conversion of pectin-rich agricultural feedstocks by mixed microbial cultures. Moreover, the results of this study provide a reference for studies on the microbial metabolism of
-galacturonate under different cultivation regimes.