Metabolic traits not shown before to function in a single microorganism: sulfate reduction, oxygen respiration & polysaacharide degradation

Sulfate-reducing microorganisms represent a globally important link between the sulfur and carbon cycles. Recent metagenomic surveys expanded the diversity of microorganisms putatively involved in sulfate reduction underscoring our incomplete understanding of this functional guild. Here, we use genome-centric metatranscriptomics to study the energy metabolism of Acidobacteriota that carry genes for dissimilation of sulfur compounds in a long-term continuous culture running under alternating anoxic and oxic conditions. Differential gene expression analysis reveals the unique metabolic flexibility of a pectin-degrading acidobacterium to switch from sulfate to oxygen reduction when shifting from anoxic to oxic conditions. The combination of facultative anaerobiosis and polysaccharide degradation expands the metabolic versatility among sulfate-reducing microorganisms. Our results highlight that sulfate reduction and aerobic respiration are not mutually exclusive in the same organism, sulfate reducers can mineralize organic polymers, and anaerobic mineralization of complex organic matter is not necessarily a multi-step process involving different microbial guilds but can be bypassed by a single microbial species.
Excerpt from Dyksma & Pester 2023

For more information see
Dyksma, S., Pester, M. (2023) Oxygen respiration and polysaccharide degradation by a sulfate-reducing acidobacterium. Nat Commun 14, 6337. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-42074-z