The Physiological Opportunism of Desulfitobacterium hafniense Strain TCE1 towards Organohalide Respiration with Tetrachloroethene
Desulfitobacterium hafniense strain TCE1 is capable of metabolically reducing tetra- and trichloroethenes by organohalide respiration. A previous study revealed that the pce gene cluster responsible for this process is located on an active composite transposon, Tn-Dha1. In the present work, we investigated the effects on the stability of the transposon during successive subcultivations of strain TCE1 in a medium depleted of tetrachloroethene. At the physiological level, an increased fitness of the population was observed after 9 successive transfers and was correlated with a decrease in the level of production of the PceA enzyme. The latter observation was a result of the gradual loss of the pce genes in the population of strain TCE1 and not of a regulation mechanism, as was postulated previously for a similar phenomenon described for Sulfurospirillum multivorans. A detailed molecular analysis of genetic rearrangements occurring around Tn-Dha1 showed two independent but concomitant events, namely, the transposition of the first insertion sequence, ISDha1-a, and homologous recombination across identical copies of ISDha1 flanking the transposon. A new model is proposed for the genetic heterogeneity around Tn-Dha1 in D. hafniense strain TCE1, along with some considerations for the cleavage mechanism mediated by the transposase TnpA1 encoded by ISDha1.