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The periplasmic nitrite reductase of Thauera selenatis may catalyze the reduction of selenite to elemental selenium

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Thauera selenatis grows anaerobically with selenate, nitrate or nitrite as the terminal electron acceptor; use of selenite as an electron acceptor does not support growth. When grown with selenate, the product was selenite; very little of the selenite was further reduced to elemental selenium. When grown in the presence of both selenate and nitrate both electron acceptors were reduced concomitantly; selenite formed during selenate respiration was further reduced to elemental selenium. Mutants lacking the periplasmic nitrite reductase activity were unable to reduce either nitrite or selenite. Mutants possessing higher activity of nitrite reductase than the wild-type, reduced nitrite and selenite more rapidly than the wild-type. Apparently, the nitrite reductase (or a component of the nitrite respiratory system) is involved in catalyzing the reduction of selenite to elemental selenium while also reducing nitrite. While periplasmic cytochrome C 551 may be a component of the nitrite respiratory system, the level of this cytochrome was essentially the same in mutant and wild-type cells grown under two different growth conditions (i.e. with either selenate or selenate plus nitrate as the terminal electron acceptors). The ability of certain other denitrifying and nitrate respiring bacteria to reduce selenite will also be described.

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DeMoll-Decker, H., Macy, J.M. The periplasmic nitrite reductase of Thauera selenatis may catalyze the reduction of selenite to elemental selenium. Arch. Microbiol. 160, 241–247 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00249131

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Key words

  • Anaerobic respiration
  • Selenate
  • Nitrate
  • Selenite reduction
  • Nitrite reductase
  • Selenium (elemental) Thauera selenatis