Cable Bacteria in Freshwater Sediments.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Sep 01; 81(17):6003-11.AE
In marine sediments cathodic oxygen reduction at the sediment surface can be coupled to anodic sulfide oxidation in deeper anoxic layers through electrical currents mediated by filamentous, multicellular bacteria of the Desulfobulbaceae family, the so-called cable bacteria. Until now, cable bacteria have only been reported from marine environments. In this study, we demonstrate that cable bacteria also occur in freshwater sediments. In a first step, homogenized sediment collected from the freshwater stream Giber Å, Denmark, was incubated in the laboratory. After 2 weeks, pH signatures and electric fields indicated electron transfer between vertically separated anodic and cathodic half-reactions. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed the presence of Desulfobulbaceae filaments. In addition, in situ measurements of oxygen, pH, and electric potential distributions in the waterlogged banks of Giber Å demonstrated the presence of distant electric redox coupling in naturally occurring freshwater sediment. At the same site, filamentous Desulfobulbaceae with cable bacterium morphology were found to be present. Their 16S rRNA gene sequence placed them as a distinct sister group to the known marine cable bacteria, with the genus Desulfobulbus as the closest cultured lineage. The results of the present study indicate that electric currents mediated by cable bacteria could be important for the biogeochemistry in many more environments than anticipated thus far and suggest a common evolutionary origin of the cable phenotype within Desulfobulbaceae with subsequent diversification into a freshwater and a marine lineage.