Responses of Clostridia to oxygen: from detoxification to adaptive strategies

Claire Morvan, Filipe Folgosa, Nicolas Kint, Miguel Teixeira, Isabelle Martin-Verstraete

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Clostridia comprise bacteria of environmental, biotechnological and medical interest and many commensals of the gut microbiota. Because of their strictly anaerobic lifestyle, oxygen is a major stress for Clostridia. However, recent data showed that these bacteria can cope with O2 better than expected for obligate anaerobes through their ability to scavenge, detoxify and consume O2. Upon O2 exposure, Clostridia redirect their central metabolism onto pathways less O2-sensitive and induce the expression of genes encoding enzymes involved in O2-reduction and in the repair of oxidized damaged molecules. While Faecalibacterium prausnitzii efficiently consumes O2 through a specific extracellular electron shuttling system requiring riboflavin, enzymes such as rubrerythrins and flavodiiron proteins with NAD(P)H-dependent O2- and/or H2O2-reductase activities are usually encoded in other Clostridia. These two classes of enzymes play indeed a pivotal role in O2 tolerance in Clostridioides difficile and Clostridium acetobutylicum. Two main signalling pathways triggering O2-induced responses have been described so far in Clostridia. PerR acts as a key regulator of the O2- and/or reactive oxygen species–defence machinery while in C. difficile, σB, the sigma factor of the general stress response also plays a crucial role in O2 tolerance by controlling the expression of genes involved in O2 scavenging and repair systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4112-4125
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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