Relations of Oligotrophic Bacteria to Oxygen

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Polluted air and the derived photochemical smog are the sources of free radicals in the atmosphere. Organic peroxides present in the smog mediate formation of peroxide radical. Oxygen species are formed by purely physical mechanisms, for instance, energy consumption converts molecular oxygen to an excited singlet state. Six active oxygen species are known: ozone, atomic oxygen, perhydroxyl, superoxide, and singlet oxygen. Singlet oxygen is the most harmful oxygen product for living cells, while hydrogen peroxide is the least harmful. Molecular oxygen is hardly toxic for prokaryotes due to an efficient protection of microbial cells by specific enzymes. This work experimentally confirms the harmlessness of molecular oxygen.

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