J. Phys. IV France
Volume 107, May 2003
Page(s) 49 - 52

J. Phys. IV France
107 (2003) 49
DOI: 10.1051/jp4:20030240

Metabolic energy from arsenite oxidation in Alcaligenes faecalis

G.L. Anderson, M. Love and B.K. Zeider

Department of Chemistry, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, IN 46634-7111, U.S.A.

The aerobic soil bacterium, Alcaligenes faecalis, survives in cultures containing greater than 10 g/L of aqueous arsenic. Toleration of arsenite occurs by the enzymatic oxidation of arsenite (As $^{\rm III}$), to the less toxic arsenate (As $^{\rm V}$). In defined media, the bacterium grows faster in the presence of arsenite than in its absence. This suggests that the bacterium uses the redox potential of arsenite oxidation as metabolic energy. The oxidation occurs via periplasmic arsenite oxidase, azurin, and cytochrome c [11] which presumably pass electron equivalents through an electron transport chain involving cytochrome c oxidase aud oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor. The associated proton translocation would allow synthesis of ATP and provide a useful means of harnessing the redox potential of arsenite oxidation. Arsenite and arsenate assays of the media during bacterial growth indicate that arsenite is depleted during the exponential growth phase and occurs concomitantly with the expression of arsenite oxidase. These results suggest that arsenite is detoxified to arsenate during bacterial growth and are inconsistent with previous reported interpretations of growth data. Alcaligenes faecalis is dependent on organic carbon sources and is therefore not chemolithoautotrophic. The relationship between succinate and arsenite utilisation provides evidence for the use of arsenite as a supplemental energy source. Because Alcaligenes faecalis not only tolerates, but thrives, in very high concentrations of arsenic has important implications in bioremediation of environments contaminated by aqueous arsenic.

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