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X-ray absorption spectroscopy as a probe of microbial sulfur biochemistry: the nature of bacterial sulfur globules revisited.


ABSTRACT: The chemical nature of the sulfur in bacterial sulfur globules has been the subject of controversy for a number of years. Sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful technique for probing the chemical forms of sulfur in situ, but two groups have used it with very different conclusions. The root of the controversy lies with the different detection strategies used by the two groups, which result in very different spectra. This paper seeks to resolve the controversy. We experimentally demonstrate that the use of transmittance detection for sulfur K-edge XAS measurements is highly prone to spectroscopic distortions and that much of the published work on sulfur bacteria is very likely based on distorted data. We also demonstrate that all three detection methods used for X-ray absorption experiments yield essentially identical spectra when the measurements are carried out under conditions where no experimental distortions are expected. Finally, we turn to the original question--the chemical nature of bacterial sulfur. We examine isolated sulfur globules of Allochromatium vinosum and intact cells of a strain of magnetotactic coccus and show that XAS indicates the presence of a chemical form of sulfur resembling S(8).

SUBMITTER: George GN 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2566007 | BioStudies | 2008-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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