The role of auxiliary oxidants in maintaining redox balance during phototrophic growth of Rhodobacter capsulatus on propionate or butyrate

David J. Richardson, Glenn F. King, David J. Kelly, Alastair G. McEwan, Stuart J. Ferguson, J. Barry Jackson

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Phototrophic growth of Rhodobacter capsulatus (formerly Rhodopseudomonas capsulata) under anaerobic conditions with either butyrate or propionate as carbonsource was dependent on the presence of either CO2 or an auxiliary oxidant. NO-3, N2O, trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) or dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) were effective provided the appropriate anaerobic respiratory pathway was present. NO-3was reduced extensively to NO-3, TMAO to trimethylamine and DMSO to dimethylsulphide under these conditions. Analysis of culture fluids by nuclear magnetic resonance showed that two moles of TMAO or DMSO were reduced per mole of butyrate utilized and one mole of either oxidant was reduced per mole of propionate consumed. The growth rate of Rb. capsulatus on succinate or malate as carbon source was enhanced by TMAO in cultures at low light intensity but not at high light intensities. A new function for anaerobic respiration during photosynthesis is proposed: it permits reducing equivalents from reduced substrates to pass to auxiliary oxidants present in the medium. The use of CO2 or auxiliary oxidants under phototrophic conditions may be influence by the availability of energy from light. It is suggested that the nuclear magnetic resonance methodology developed could have further applications in studies of bacterial physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1988


  • Nitrate reduction
  • NMR assay
  • Photosynthetic bacteria (Rhodobacter capsulatus)
  • Phototrophic growth
  • Redox balance
  • TMAO reduction

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