Coupled photochemical and enzymatic Mn(II) oxidation pathways of a planktonic Roseobacter-Like bacterium. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacteria belonging to the Roseobacter clade of the alpha-Proteobacteria occupy a wide range of environmental niches and are numerically abundant in coastal waters. Here we reveal that Roseobacter-like bacteria may play a previously unrecognized role in the oxidation and cycling of manganese (Mn) in coastal waters. A diverse array of Mn(II)-oxidizing Roseobacter-like species were isolated from Elkhorn Slough, a coastal estuary adjacent to Monterey Bay in California. One isolate (designated AzwK-3b), in particular, rapidly oxidizes Mn(II) to insoluble Mn(III, IV) oxides. Interestingly, AzwK-3b is 100% identical (at the 16S rRNA gene level) to a previously described Pfiesteria-associated Roseobacter-like bacterium, which is not able to oxidize Mn(II). The rates of manganese(II) oxidation by live cultures and cell-free filtrates are substantially higher when the preparations are incubated in the presence of light. The rates of oxidation by washed cell extracts, however, are light independent. Thus, AzwK-3b invokes two Mn(II) oxidation mechanisms when it is incubated in the presence of light, in contrast to the predominantly direct enzymatic oxidation in the dark. In the presence of light, production of photochemically active metabolites is coupled with initial direct enzymatic Mn(II) oxidation, resulting in higher Mn(II) oxidation rates. Thus, Roseobacter-like bacteria may not only play a previously unrecognized role in Mn(II) oxidation and cycling in coastal surface waters but also induce a novel photooxidation pathway that provides an alternative means of Mn(II) oxidation in the photic zone.

publication date

  • May 2006