Bacillus subtilis can grow anaerobically by respiration with nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor. In the absence of external electron acceptors, it grows by fermentation. Identification of fermentation products by using in vivo nuclear magnetic resonance scans of whole cultures indicated that B. subtilis grows by mixed acid-butanediol fermentation but that no formate is produced. An ace mutant that lacks pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity was unable to grow anaerobically and produced hardly any fermentation product. These results suggest that PDH is involved in most or all acetyl coenzyme A production in B. subtilis under anaerobic conditions, unlike Escherichia coli, which uses pyruvate formate lyase. Nitrate respiration was previously shown to require the ResDE two-component signal transduction system and an anaerobic gene regulator, FNR. Also required are respiratory nitrate reductase, encoded by the narGHJI operon, and moaA, involved in biosynthesis of a molybdopterin cofactor of nitrate reductase. The resD and resDE mutations were shown to moderately affect fermentation, but nitrate reductase activity and fnr are dispensable for fermentative growth. A search for genes involved in fermentation indicated that fisH is required, and is also needed to a lesser extent for nitrate respiration. These results show that nitrate respiration and fermentation of B. subtilis are governed by divergent regulatory pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology