The assimilation of sulphate in , comprising the reduction of sulphate to sulphide and the incorporation of the sulphur atom into a four-carbon chain, requires the integrity of 13 different genes. To date, the functions of nine of these genes are still not clearly established. A set of strains, each bearing a mutation in one gene, was studied. Phenotypic studies and enzyme determinations showed that the products of at least five genes are needed for the synthesis of an enzymically active sulphite reductase. These genes are and . Wild-type strains of can use organic metabolites such as homocysteine, cysteine, methionine and -adenosylmethionine as sulphur sources. They are also able to use inorganic sulphur sources such as sulphate, sulphite, sulphide or thiosulphate. Here we show that both of the two sulphur atoms of thiosulphate are used by . Thiosulphate is cleaved into sulphite and sulphide prior to utilization by the sulphate assimilation pathway, as the metabolism of one sulphur atom from thiosulphate requires the presence of an active sulphite reductase.


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