Manganese (Mn) oxides are among the most reactive minerals within the environment, where they control the bioavailability of carbon, nutrients, and numerous metals. Although the ability of microorganisms to oxidize Mn(II) to Mn(III/IV) oxides is scattered throughout the bacterial and fungal domains of life, the mechanism and physiological basis for Mn(II) oxidation remains an enigma. Here, we use a combination of compound-specific chemical assays, microspectroscopy, and electron microscopy to show that a common Ascomycete filamentous fungus, Stilbella aciculosa, oxidizes Mn(II) to Mn oxides by producing extracellular superoxide during cell differentiation. The reactive Mn oxide phase birnessite and the reactive oxygen species superoxide and hydrogen peroxide are colocalized at the base of asexual reproductive structures. Mn oxide formation is not observed in the presence of superoxide scavengers (e.g., Cu) and inhibitors of NADPH oxidases (e.g., diphenylene iodonium chloride), enzymes responsible for superoxide production and cell differentiation in fungi. Considering the recent identification of Mn(II) oxidation by NADH oxidase-based superoxide production by a common marine bacterium (Roseobacter sp.), these results introduce a surprising homology between some prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms in the mechanisms responsible for Mn(II) oxidation, where oxidation appears to be a side reaction of extracellular superoxide production. Given the versatility of superoxide as a redox reactant and the widespread ability of fungi to produce superoxide, this microbial extracellular superoxide production may play a central role in the cycling and bioavailability of metals (e.g., Hg, Fe, Mn) and carbon in natural systems.
Colleen M. Hansel; Carolyn A. Zeiner; Cara M. Santelli; Samuel M. Webb
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