Multi-omics reveal the lifestyle of the acidophilic, mineral-oxidizing model species Leptospirillum ferriphilumT.
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Leptospirillum ferriphilum plays a major role in acidic, metal rich environments where it represents one of the most prevalent iron oxidizers. These milieus include acid rock and mine drainage as well as biomining operations. Despite its perceived importance, no complete genome sequence of this model species' type strain is available, limiting the possibilities to investigate the strategies and adaptations Leptospirillum ferriphilumT applies to survive and compete in its niche. This study presents a complete, circular genome of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT DSM 14647 obtained by PacBio SMRT long read sequencing for use as a high quality reference. Analysis of the functionally annotated genome, mRNA transcripts, and protein concentrations revealed a previously undiscovered nitrogenase cluster for atmospheric nitrogen fixation and elucidated metabolic systems taking part in energy conservation, carbon fixation, pH homeostasis, heavy metal tolerance, oxidative stress response, chemotaxis and motility, quorum sensing, and biofilm formation. Additionally, mRNA transcript counts and protein concentrations were compared between cells grown in continuous culture using ferrous iron as substrate and bioleaching cultures containing chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). Leptospirillum ferriphilumT adaptations to growth on chalcopyrite included a possibly enhanced production of reducing power, reduced carbon dioxide fixation, as well as elevated RNA transcripts and proteins involved in heavy metal resistance, with special emphasis on copper efflux systems. Finally, expression and translation of genes responsible for chemotaxis and motility were enhanced.IMPORTANCELeptospirillum ferriphilum is one of the most important iron-oxidizers in the context of acidic and metal rich environments during moderately thermophilic biomining. A high-quality circular genome of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT coupled with functional omics data provides new insights into its metabolic properties, such as the novel identification of genes for atmospheric nitrogen fixation, and represents an essential step for further accurate proteomic and transcriptomic investigation of this acidophile model species in the future. Additionally, light is shed on Leptospirillum ferriphilumT adaptation strategies to growth on the copper mineral chalcopyrite. This data can be applied to deepen our understanding and optimization of bioleaching and biooxidation, techniques that present sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to many traditional methods for metal extraction.
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