A sulfoglycolytic Entner-Doudoroff pathway in Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii SRDI565

Jinling Li, Ruwan Epa, Nichollas E Scott, Dominik Skoneczny, Mahima Sharma, Alexander J D Snow, James P Lingford, Ethan D Goddard-Borger, Gideon J Davies, Malcolm J McConville, Spencer J Williams

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Rhizobia are nitrogen fixing bacteria that engage in symbiotic relationships with plant hosts but can also persist as free-living bacteria with the soil and rhizosphere. Here we show that free living Rhizobium leguminosarum SRDI565 can grow on the sulfosugar sulfoquinovose (SQ), or the related glycoside SQ-glycerol, using a sulfoglycolytic Entner-Doudoroff (sulfo-ED) pathway resulting in production of sulfolactate (SL) as the major metabolic end-product. Comparative proteomics supports the involvement of a sulfo-ED operon encoding an ABC transporter cassette, sulfo-ED enzymes and an SL exporter. Consistent with an oligotrophic lifestyle, proteomics data revealed little change in expression of the sulfo-ED proteins during growth on SQ versus mannitol, a result confirmed through biochemical assay of sulfoquinovosidase activity in cell lysates. Metabolomics analysis showed that growth on SQ involves gluconeogenesis to satisfy metabolic requirements for glucose-6-phosphate and fructose-6-phosphate. Metabolomics analysis also revealed the unexpected production of small amounts of sulfofructose and 2,3-dihydroxypropanesulfonate, which are proposed to arise from promiscuous activities of the glycolytic enzyme phosphoglucose isomerase and a non-specific aldehyde reductase, respectively. The discovery of a rhizobium isolate with the ability to degrade SQ builds our knowledge of how these important symbiotic bacteria persist within soil.Importance Sulfonate sulfur is a major form of organic sulfur in soils but requires biomineralization before it can be utilized by plants. Very little is known about the biochemical processes used to mobilize sulfonate sulfur. We show that a rhizobial isolate from soil, Rhizobium leguminosarum SRDI565, possesses the capability to degrade the abundant phototroph-derived carbohydrate sulfonate SQ through a sulfoglycolytic Entner-Doudoroff pathway. Proteomics/metabolomics demonstrated the utilization of this pathway during growth on SQ and provided evidence for gluconeogenesis. Unexpectedly, off-cycle sulfoglycolytic species were also detected pointing to the complexity of metabolic processes within cells under conditions of sulfoglycolysis. Thus rhizobial metabolism of the abundant sulfosugar SQ may contribute to persistence of the bacteria in the soil and to mobilization of sulfur in the pedosphere.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Early online date22 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2020

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