Microbe-microbe interactions trigger Mn(II)-oxidizing gene expression

Jinsong Liang, Yaohui Bai, Yujie Men, Jiuhui Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Manganese (Mn) is an important metal in geochemical cycles. Some microorganisms can oxidize Mn(II) to Mn oxides, which can, in turn, affect the global cycles of other elements by strong sorption and oxidation effects. Microbe-microbe interactions have important roles in a number of biological processes. However, how microbial interactions affect Mn(II) oxidation still remains unknown. Here, we investigated the interactions between two bacteria (Arthrobacter sp. and Sphingopyxis sp.) in a co-culture, which exhibited Mn(II)-oxidizing activity, although neither were able to oxidize Mn(II) in isolation. We demonstrated that the Mn(II)-oxidizing activity in co-culture was most likely induced via contact-dependent interactions. The expressed Mn(II)-oxidizing protein in the co-culture was purified and identified as a bilirubin oxidase belonging to strain Arthrobacter. Full sequencing of the bilirubin oxidase-encoding gene (boxA) was performed. The Mn(II)-oxidizing protein and the transcripts of boxA were detected in the co-culture, but not in either of the isolated cultures. This indicate that boxA was silent in Arthrobacter monoculture, and was activated in response to presence of Sphingopyxis in the co-culture. Further, transcriptomic analysis by RNA-Seq, extracellular superoxide detection and cell density quantification by flow cytometry indicate induction of boxA gene expression in Arthrobacter was co-incident with a stress response triggered by co-cultivation with Sphingopyxis. Our findings suggest the potential roles of microbial physiological responses to stress induced by other microbes in Mn(II) oxidation and extracellular superoxide production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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