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Catechol 2,3-dioxygenase and othermeta-cleavage catabolic pathway genes in the ‘anaerobic’ termite gut spirocheteTreponema primitia

Lucey, Kaitlyn S. and Leadbetter, Jared R. (2014) Catechol 2,3-dioxygenase and othermeta-cleavage catabolic pathway genes in the ‘anaerobic’ termite gut spirocheteTreponema primitia. Molecular Ecology, 23 (6). pp. 1531-1543. ISSN 0962-1083.

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Microorganisms have evolved a spectacular diversity of metabolisms, some of which allow them to overcome environmental constraints, utilize abundant but inaccessible resources and drive nutrient cycling in various ecosystems. The termite hindgut microbial community is optimized to metabolize wood, and in recent years, the in situ physiological and ecological functions of community members have been researched. Spirochetes are abundant in the termite gut, and herein, putative aromatic meta‐cleavage pathway genes typical of aerobic pseudomonads were located in genomes of homoacetogenic termite hindgut ‘anaerobes’, Treponema primitia str. ZAS‐1 and ZAS‐2. Phylogenetic analyses suggest the T. primitia catechol 2,3‐dioxygenase and several other essential meta‐pathway genes were acquired from an α‐proteobacterium in the distant past to augment several genes T. primitia acquired from anaerobic firmicutes that do not directly catabolize aromatics but can contribute to the final pathway steps. Further, transcripts for each meta‐pathway gene were expressed in strictly anaerobic cultures of T. primitia str. ZAS‐2 indicative of constitutive pathway expression. Also, the addition of catechol + O_2 to T. primitia liquid cultures resulted in the transient accumulation of trace amounts of the yellow ring cleavage product, hydroxymuconic semialdehyde. This is the first evidence of aromatic ring cleavage in the phylum (division) Spirochetes. Results also support a possible role for T. primitia in termite hindgut O_2/lignin aromatic monomer metabolism. Potential O_2‐dependent yet nonrespiratory microbial metabolisms have heretofore been overlooked and warrant further investigation. These metabolisms could describe the degradation of plant‐derived and other aromatics in microoxic environments and contribute significantly to carbon turnover.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Leadbetter, Jared R.0000-0002-7033-0844
Additional Information:© 2013 John Wiley & Son. Manuscript received: 13 May 2013. Manuscript revised: 17 November 2013. Manuscript accepted: 18 November 2013. Accepted manuscript online: 22 November 2013. Version of Record online: 16 December 2013. Issue Online: 17 March 2014. Special Issue: NATURE'S MICROBIOME
Group:Caltech Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions (CEMI)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG02-07ER64484
Caltech Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions (CEMI)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:aromatic metabolism; catechol 2,3-dioxygenase; meta-cleavage pathway; spirochete; symbiosis; termite hindgut microbial community
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190502-114611779
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Official Citation:Lucey, K. S. and Leadbetter, J. R. (2014), Catechol 2,3‐dioxygenase and other meta‐cleavage catabolic pathway genes in the ‘anaerobic’ termite gut spirochete Treponema primitia. Mol Ecol, 23: 1531-1543. doi:10.1111/mec.12598
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:95176
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:02 May 2019 19:46
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 21:11

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