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Nitrite, in equilibrium with free nitrous acid (FNA), can inhibit both aerobic and anaerobic growth of microbial communities through bactericidal activities that have considerable potential for control of microbial growth in a range of water systems. There has been much focus on the effect of nitrite/FNA on anaerobic metabolism and so, to enhance understanding of the metabolic impact of nitrite/FNA on aerobic metabolism, a study was undertaken with a model denitrifying bacterium Paracoccus denitrificans PD1222. Extracellular nitrite inhibits aerobic growth of P. denitrificans in a pH-dependent manner that is likely to be a result of both nitrite and free nitrous acid (pKa = 3.25) and subsequent reactive nitrogen oxides generated from the intracellular passage of FNA into P. denitrificans. Increased expression of a gene encoding a flavohemoglobin protein (Fhp) (Pden_1689) was observed in response to extracellular nitrite. Construction and analysis of a deletion mutant established Fhp to be involved in endowing nitrite/FNA resistance at high extracellular nitrite concentrations. Global transcriptional analysis confirmed nitrite-dependent expression of fhp and indicated that P. denitrificans expressed a number of stress response systems associated with protein, DNA and lipid repair. It is therefore suggested that nitrite causes a pH-dependent stress response that is due to the production of associated reactive nitrogen species, such as nitric oxide from the internalisation of FNA. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


K R Hartop, M J Sullivan, G Giannopoulos, A J Gates, P L Bond, Z Yuan, T A Clarke, G Rowley, D J Richardson. The metabolic impact of extracellular nitrite on aerobic metabolism of Paracoccus denitrificans. Water research. 2017 Apr 15;113:207-214

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PMID: 28214776

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