skip to main content


Title: Single-genotype syntrophy by Rhodopseudomonas palustris is not a strategy to aid redox balance during anaerobic degradation of lignin monomers

Rhodopseudomonas palustris has emerged as a model microbe for the anaerobic metabolism of p-coumarate, which is an aromatic compound and a primary component of lignin. However, under an aerobic conditions, R.palustris must actively eliminate excess reducing equivalents through a number of known strategies (e.g., CO 2 fixation, H 2 evolution) to avoid lethal redox imbalance. Others had hypothesized that to ease the burden of this redox imbalance, a clonal population of R.palustris could functionally differentiate into a pseudo-consortium. Within this pseudo-consortium, one sub-population would perform the aromatic moiety degradation into acetate, while the other sub-population would oxidize acetate, resulting in a single-genotype syntrophy through acetate sharing. Here, the objective was to test this hypothesis by utilizing microbial lelectrochemistry as a research tool with the extrac ellular-electron-transferring bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens as a reporter strain replacing the hypothesized acetate-oxidizing sub-population. We used a 2×4 experimental design with pure cultures of R. palustris in serum bottles and co-cultures of R. palustris and G.sulfurreducens in bioelectrochemical systems.This experimental design included growth medium with and without bicarbonate to induce non-lethal and lethal redox imbalance conditions, respectively, in R. palustris. Finally, the design also included a mutant strain (NifA*) of R. palustris, which constitutively produces Hmore » 2, to serve both as a positive control for metabolite secretion (H 2) to G. sulfurreducens, and as a non-lethal redox control for without bicarbonate conditions. Our results demonstrate that acetate sharing between different sub-populations of R. palustris does not occur while degrading p-coumarate under either non-lethal or lethal redox imbalance conditions. Furthermore, this work highlights the strength of microbial electrochemistry as a tool for studying microbial syntrophy.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States); The DOE Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA (United States)
  2. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Microbiology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1664-302X
Frontiers Research Foundation
Research Org:
Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; single-genotype syntrophy; Rhodopseudomonas palustris; microbial electrochemistry; lignin degradation; redox balance
OSTI Identifier: