The characteristics of the respiratory system of Acetobacter diazotrophicus PAL5 were investigated. Increasing aeration (from 0.5 to 4.0 liters of air min−1 liter of medium−1) had a strong positive effect on growth and on the diazotrophic activity of cultures. Cells obtained from well-aerated and diazotrophically active cultures possessed a highly active, membrane-bound electron transport system with dehydrogenases for NADH, glucose, and acetaldehyde as the main electron donors. Ethanol, succinate, and gluconate were also oxidized but to only a minor extent. Terminal cytochrome c oxidase-type activity was poor as measured by reduced N,N,N,N′-tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine, but quinol oxidase-type activity, as measured by 2,3,5,6-tetrachloro-1,4-benzenediol, was high. Spectral and high-pressure liquid chromatography analysis of membranes revealed the presence of cytochrome ba as a putative oxidase in cells obtained from diazotrophically active cultures. Cells were also rich in c-type cytochromes; four bands of high molecular mass (i.e., 67, 56, 52, and 45 kDa) were revealed by a peroxidase activity stain in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. KCN inhibition curves of respiratory oxidase activities were biphasic, with a highly resistant component. Treatment of membranes with 0.2% Triton X-100 solubilized c-type cytochromes and resulted in a preparation that was significantly more sensitive to cyanide. Repression of diazotrophic activity in well-aerated cultures by 40 mM (NH4)2SO4 caused a significant decrease of the respiratory activities. It is noteworthy that the levels of glucose dehydrogenase and putative oxidase ba decreased 6.8- and 10-fold, respectively. In these cells, a bd-type cytochrome seems to be the major terminal oxidase. Thus, it would seem that glucose dehydrogenase and cytochrome ba are key components of the respiratory system of A. diazotrophicus during aerobic diazotrophy
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