Transcriptional Response of Sulfur Chemolithoautotroph Thiomicrospira crunogena to Dissolved Inorganic Carbon Limitation

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The hydrothermal vent gammaproteobacterium Thiomicrospira crunogena inhabits an unstable environment and must endure dramatic changes in habitat chemistry. This sulfur chemolithoautotroph responds to changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (DIC = CO2 + HCO3 + CO3−2) availability with a carbon-concentrating mechanism (CCM) in which whole-cell affinity for DIC, as well as the intracellular DIC concentration, increases substantially under DIC limitation. To determine whether this CCM is regulated at the level of transcription, we resuspended cells that were cultivated under high-DIC conditions in chemostats in growth medium with low concentrations of DIC and tracked CCM development in the presence and absence of the RNA polymerase inhibitor rifampin. Induction of the CCM, as measured by silicone oil centrifugation, was hindered in the presence of rifampin. Similar results were observed for carboxysome gene transcription and assembly, as assayed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) and transmission electron microscopy, respectively. Genome-wide transcription patterns for cells grown under DIC limitation and those grown under ammonia limitation were assayed via microarrays and compared. In addition to carboxysome genes, two novel genes (Tcr_1019 and Tcr_1315) present in other organisms, including chemolithoautotrophs, but whose function(s) has not been elucidated in any organism were found to be upregulated under low-DIC conditions. Likewise, under ammonia limitation, in addition to the expected enhancement of ammonia transporter and PII gene transcription, the transcription of two novel genes (Tcr_0466 and Tcr_2018) was measurably enhanced. Upregulation of all four genes (Tcr_1019, 4-fold; Tcr_131, ∼7-fold; Tcr_0466, > 200-fold; Tcr_2018, 7-fold), which suggests that novel components are part of the response to nutrient limitation by this organism, was verified via qRT-PCR.

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Journal of Bacteriology, v. 194, issue 8, p. 2074-2081