Dissimilatory Fe(III) reduction by Clostridium beijerinckii isolated from freshwater sediment using Fe(III) maltol enrichment

Paul S. Dobbin, Jon P. Carter, Carlos Garcia Salamanca San Juan, Marc von Höbe, Anne K. Powell, David J. Richardson

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A microorganism which reduces Fe(III) during the fermentation of glucose was isolated from freshwater sediment. The Fe(III) was supplied to enrichment cultures as a soluble complex with the bidentate ligand maltol (3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-pyrone). Advantages that were afforded by the use of Fe(III)(maltol)3 over previously published methods included negation of the requirement for assays of Fe(II) formation. Because Fe(III)(maltol)3 has a characteristic deep red colour, Fe(III) reduction could be quantified spectrophotometrically by monitoring the disappearance of the complex in liquid cultures. Furthermore, Fe(III) reduction on agar plates containing the complex was apparent by zones of decolourisation around the bacterial colonies. 16S rRNA gene sequencing indicated the isolate to be a strain of Clostridium beijerinckii. Growth experiments were performed on the isolate in batch cultures with varying concentrations of Fe(III) citrate and 50 mM glucose. Increasing the level of Fe(III) citrate present was found to alter the fermentation balance, with less acidic products being formed. The presence of Fe(III) led to increases in the growth rate and growth yield, which were both approximately doubled when the supply of the cation reached 25 mM. A NAD(P)H-dependent Fe(III) reductase activity was localised to the bacterial membrane and found not to be sensitive to respiratory inhibitors. Taken together, these data suggest that dissimilatory Fe(III) reduction by the isolate provides a means of utilising the cation as an electron sink, thus facilitating pyridine nucleotide to be recycled during fermentative metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1999


  • Clostridium beijerinckii
  • Dissimilatory iron reduction
  • Fermentative metabolism
  • Maltol

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