Potential for quantifying expression of the Geobacteraceae citrate synthase gene to assess the activity of Geobacteraceae in the subsurface and on current-harvesting electrodes

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Nov;71(11):6870-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.71.11.6870-6877.2005.


The Geobacteraceae citrate synthase is phylogenetically distinct from those of other prokaryotes and is a key enzyme in the central metabolism of Geobacteraceae. Therefore, the potential for using levels of citrate synthase mRNA to estimate rates of Geobacter metabolism was evaluated in pure culture studies and in four different Geobacteraceae-dominated environments. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR studies with mRNA extracted from cultures of Geobacter sulfurreducens grown in chemostats with Fe(III) as the electron acceptor or in batch with electrodes as the electron acceptor indicated that transcript levels of the citrate synthase gene, gltA, increased with increased rates of growth/Fe(III) reduction or current production, whereas the expression of the constitutively expressed housekeeping genes recA, rpoD, and proC remained relatively constant. Analysis of mRNA extracted from groundwater collected from a U(VI)-contaminated site undergoing in situ uranium bioremediation revealed a remarkable correspondence between acetate levels in the groundwater and levels of transcripts of gltA. The expression of gltA was also significantly greater in RNA extracted from groundwater beneath a highway runoff recharge pool that was exposed to calcium magnesium acetate in June, when acetate concentrations were high, than in October, when the levels had significantly decreased. It was also possible to detect gltA transcripts on current-harvesting anodes deployed in freshwater sediments. These results suggest that it is possible to monitor the in situ metabolic rate of Geobacteraceae by tracking the expression of the citrate synthase gene.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / genetics
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / metabolism*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Deltaproteobacteria / enzymology
  • Deltaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Deltaproteobacteria / growth & development*
  • Electrodes
  • Ferric Compounds / metabolism
  • Fresh Water / microbiology*
  • Geobacter / enzymology
  • Geobacter / genetics
  • Geobacter / growth & development*
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Petroleum
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Uranium / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / metabolism


  • Acetates
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Petroleum
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Uranium
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase