• Pigment synthesis;
  • Yield;
  • Affinities for thiosulfate and oxygen;
  • Continuous culture;
  • Transient state


Chemotrophic growth capacities of the purple sulfur bacterium Thiocapsa roseopersicina strain M1 were studied in continuous culture under thiosulfate limitation.

Pigment synthesis was completely inhibited upon a shift from anaerobic to semi-aerobic conditions (52 μM O2) in the light, but no active breakdown occurred. During the transient state, the cells grew in a mixed photo- and chemolithotrophic mode; the specific respiration rate gradually increased with a concomitant drop in the bacteriochlorophyll a content. Photolithotrophically grown cells have the ability to respire. It was concluded that photosynthesis and respiration compete for electrons, but that photosynthesis is preferred under electron donor-limiting conditions, when the cells still contain large amounts of pigments. Eventually, a fully chemolithotrophic steady state was attained.

The chemolithotropic growth of T. roseopersicina was studied in the dark under semiaerobic conditions at various dilution rates. The maximum specific growth rate was 68% of the maximum attainable growth rate under photolithotrophic conditions. The growth affinity for thiosulfate was high (Km= 1.5 μM). The yield on thiosulfate under chemolithotrophic conditions exceeded that of thiobacilli. Oxygen uptake was studied in short-term experiments. It was shown that respiration in T. roseopersicina has a Km of approx. 1 μM O2. the ecological importance for T. roseopersicina of chemolithotrophic growth and pigment content is discussed with respect to the occurrence of T. roseopersicina in laminated microbial ecosystems and its possible competition with colorless sulfur bacteria.