Ferrous iron oxidation by sulfur-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and analysis of the process at the levels of transcription and protein synthesis

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2013 Apr;103(4):905-19. doi: 10.1007/s10482-012-9872-2. Epub 2013 Jan 5.


In contrast to iron-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, A. ferrooxidans from a stationary phase elemental sulfur-oxidizing culture exhibited a lag phase in pyrite oxidation, which is similar to its behaviour during ferrous iron oxidation. The ability of elemental sulfur-oxidizing A. ferrooxidans to immediately oxidize ferrous iron or pyrite without a lag phase was only observed in bacteria obtained from growing cultures with elemental sulfur. However, these cultures that shifted to ferrous iron oxidation showed a low rate of ferrous iron oxidation while no growth was observed. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis was used for a quantitative proteomic analysis of the adaptation process when bacteria were switched from elemental sulfur to ferrous iron. A comparison of total cell lysates revealed 39 proteins whose increase or decrease in abundance was related to this phenotypic switching. However, only a few proteins were closely related to iron and sulfur metabolism. Reverse-transcription quantitative PCR was used to further characterize the bacterial adaptation process. The expression profiles of selected genes primarily involved in the ferrous iron oxidation indicated that phenotypic switching is a complex process that includes the activation of genes encoding a membrane protein, maturation proteins, electron transport proteins and their regulators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidithiobacillus / growth & development
  • Acidithiobacillus / metabolism*
  • Acidithiobacillus / physiology
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Ferrous Compounds / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sulfides / metabolism
  • Sulfur / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Proteome
  • Sulfides
  • pyrite
  • Sulfur
  • Iron