Nitrate reduction in Haloferax alexandrinus: the case of assimilatory nitrate reductase.

Research paper by Volkan V Kilic, Gözde Aydoğan GA Kilic, Hatice Mehtap HM Kutlu, Rosa María RM Martínez-Espinosa

Indexed on: 23 Mar '17Published on: 23 Mar '17Published in: Extremophiles


Haloferax alexandrinus Strain TM JCM 10717(T) = IFO 16590(T) is an extreme halophilic archaeon able to produce significant amounts of canthaxanthin. Its genome sequence has been analysed in this work using bioinformatics tools available at Expasy in order to look for genes encoding nitrate reductase-like proteins: respiratory nitrate reductase (Nar) and/or assimilatory nitrate reductase (Nas). The ability of the cells to reduce nitrate under aerobic conditions was tested. The enzyme in charge of nitrate reduction under aerobic conditions (Nas) has been purified and characterised. It is a monomeric enzyme (72 ± 1.8 kDa) that requires high salt concentration for stability and activity. The optimum pH value for activity was 9.5. Effectiveness of different substrates, electron donors, cofactors and inhibitors was also reported. High nitrite concentrations were detected within the culture media during aerobic/microaerobic cells growth. The main conclusion from the results is that this haloarchaeon reduces nitrate aerobically thanks to Nas and may induce denitrification under anaerobic/microaerobic conditions using nitrate as electron acceptor. The study sheds light on the role played by haloarchaea in the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen, paying special attention to nitrate reduction processes. Besides, it provides useful information for future attempts on microecological and biotechnological implications of haloarchaeal nitrate reductases.