Shawn E. McGlynn
- Microbes and Environments (ISSN:13426311)
The activity of nitrogen fixation measured by acetylene reduction was examined in chemosynthetic microbial mats at 72–75°C in slightly-alkaline sulfidic hot springs in Nakabusa, Japan. Nitrogenase activity markedly varied from sampling to sampling. Nitrogenase activity did not correlate with methane production, but was detected in samples showing methane production levels less than the maximum amount, indicating a possible redox dependency of nitrogenase activity. Nitrogenase activity was not affected by 2-bromo-ethane sulfonate, an inhibitor of methanogenesis. However, it was inhibited by the addition of molybdate, an inhibitor of sulfate reduction and sulfur disproportionation, suggesting the involvement of sulfate-reducing or sulfur-disproportionating organisms. Nitrogenase activity was affected by different O2 concentrations in the gas phase, again supporting the hypothesis of a redox potential dependency, and was decreased by the dispersion of mats with a homogenizer. The loss of activity that occurred from dispersion was partially recovered by the addition of H2, sulfate, and carbon dioxide. These results suggested that the observed activity of nitrogen fixation was related to chemoautotrophic sulfate reducers, and fixation may be active in a limited range of ambient redox potential. Since thermophilic chemosynthetic communities may resemble ancient microbial communities before the appearance of photosynthesis, the present results may be useful when considering the ancient nitrogen cycle on earth.