Unusual Sulfur Requirements During Laboratory Growth of Luteibacter

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Many terrestrial bacteria are assumed to utilize sulfate transport and metabolism as a means for fulfilling cellular sulfur requirements. As such, many defined minimal media for bacterial growth under laboratory conditions contain sulfate as their sulfur source. Herein, an exception to this assumption is described as sulfate transport capabilities have been lost at least once in a lineage of Luteibacter associated with plants and fungi. However, a representative of this lineage (an endohyphal species, Luteibacter sp. 9143) can grow in minimal media when sulfur is supplemented with organic (cysteine and methionine) or inorganic (thiosulfate) compounds, and when co-cultured with its fungal host. A related strain of Luteibacter (UNC366Tsa5.1, isolated from the rhizosphere of Arabidopsis) potentially possesses more limited sulfur acquisition pathways than Luteibacter sp. 9143. These results highlight the surprising sulfur requirements of Luteibacter, which may be illustrative of close associations between these strains and eukaryotes, as well as a need for caution when inferring auxotrophies in a focal strain based on differential growth in minimal versus rich media. Importance Sulfate is often used as the sulfur source in minimal media. Here we show that some Luteibacter strains cannot utilize sulfate as a sulfur source, likely due to loss of genes encoding transport proteins. As sulfur requirements for Luteibacter can be met through co-culture with their fungal partner, this knowledge could provide a means to engineer better symbiotic relationships between bacteria and fungi that may be relevant for agriculture. Because growth in minimal media can be restored by supplementation with either cysteine or methionine, and in some cases only methionine, this result highlights how unexpected growth requirements could masquerade as auxotrophy for certain strains and conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jun 13 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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