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Title: Metaproteomics Identifies the Protein Machinery Involved in Metal and Radionuclide Reduction in Subsurface Microbiomes and Elucidates Mechanisms and U(VI) Reduction Immobilization

The overall goal for this funded project was to develop and exploit environmental metaproteomics tools to identify biomarkers for monitoring microbial activity affecting U speciation at U-contaminated sites, correlate metaproteomics profiles with geochemical parameters and U(VI) reduction activity (or lack thereof), elucidate mechanisms contributing to U(VI) reduction, and provide remediation project managers with additional information to make science-based site management decisions for achieving cleanup goals more efficiently. Although significant progress has been made in elucidating the microbiology contribution to metal and radionuclide reduction, the cellular components, pathway(s), and mechanisms involved in U trans-formation remain poorly understood. Recent advances in (meta)proteomics technology enable detailed studies of complex samples, including environmental samples, which differ between sites and even show considerable variability within the same site (e.g., the Oak Ridge IFRC site). Additionally, site-specific geochemical conditions affect microbial activity and function, suggesting generalized assessment and interpretations may not suffice. This research effort integrated current understanding of the microbiology and biochemistry of U(VI) reduction and capitalize on advances in proteomics technology made over the past few years. Field-related analyses used Oak Ridge IFRC field ground water samples from locations where slow-release substrate biostimulation has been implemented to accelerate in situ U(VI) reduction rates. Ourmore » overarching hypothesis was that the metabolic signature in environmental samples, as deciphered by the metaproteome measurements, would show a relationship with U(VI) reduction activity. Since metaproteomic and metagenomic characterizations were computationally challenging and time-consuming, we used a tiered approach that combines database mining, controlled laboratory studies, U(VI) reduction activity measurements, phylogenetic analyses, and gene expression studies to support the metaproteomics characterizations. Growth experiments of target microorganisms (Anaeromyxobacter, Shewanella, Geobacter) revealed tremendous respiratory versatility, as evidenced by the ability to utilize a range of electron donors (e.g. acetate, hydrogen, pyruvate, lactate, succinate, formate) and electron acceptors (e.g. nitrate, fumarate, halogenated phenols, ferric iron, nitrous oxide, etc.). In particular, the dissimilatory metabolic reduction of metals, including radionuclides, by target microorganisms spurred interest for in situ bioremediation of contaminated soils and sediments. Distinct c-type cytochrome expression patterns were observed in target microorganisms grown with the different electron acceptors. For each target microorganism, the core proteome covered almost all metabolic pathways represented by their corresponding pan-proteomes. Unique proteins were detected for each target microorganism, and their expression and possible functionalities were linked to specific growth conditions through proteomics measurements. Optimization of the proteomic tools included in-depth comprehensive metagenomic and metaproteomic analyses on a limited number of samples. The optimized metaproteomic analyses were then applied to Oak Ridge IFRC field samples from the slow-release substrate biostimulation. Metaproteomic analysis and pathway mapping results demonstrated the distinct effects of metal and non-metal growth conditions on the proteome expression. With these metaproteomic tools, we identified which previously hypothetical metabolic pathways were active during the analyzed time points of the slow release substrate biostimulation. Thus, we demonstrated the utility of these tools for site assessment, efficient implementation of bioremediation and long-term monitoring. This research of detailed protein analysis linked with metal reduction activity did (1) show that c-type cytochrome isoforms, previously associated with radionuclide reduction activity, are suitable biomarkers, (2) identify new biomarker targets for site assessment and bioremediation monitoring, and (3) provide new information about specific proteins and mechanisms involved in U(VI) reduction and immobilization. This expanded metagenomic and metaproteomic toolbox contributed to implementing science-driven site management with broad benefits to the DOE mission.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; Dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria; proteomics; c-type cytochrome; radionuclide reduction