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Growth, natural relationships, cellular fatty acids and metabolic adaptation of sulfate-reducing bacteria that utilize long-chain alkanes under anoxic conditions

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Aeckersberg,  Frank
Department of Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Widdel,  Friedrich
Department of Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Aeckersberg, F., Rainey, F., & Widdel, F. (1998). Growth, natural relationships, cellular fatty acids and metabolic adaptation of sulfate-reducing bacteria that utilize long-chain alkanes under anoxic conditions. Archives of Microbiology, 170(5), 361-369. doi:10.1007/s002030050654.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-1B8A-2
Abstract
Natural relationships, improvement of anaerobic growth on hydrocarbons, and properties that may provide clues to an understanding of oxygen-independent alkane metabolism were studied with two mesophilic sulfate-reducing bacteria, strains Hxd3 and Pnd3. Strain Hxd3 had been formerly isolated from an oil tank; strain Pnd3 was isolated from marine sediment. Strains Hxd3 and Pnd3 grew under strictly anoxic conditions on n-alkanes in the range of C-12-C-20 and C-14-C-17, respectively, reducing sulfate to sulfide. Both strains shared 90% 16 S rRNA sequence similarity and clustered with classified species of completely oxidizing, sulfate-reducing bac bacteria within the delta-subclass of Proteobacteria. Anaerobic growth on alkanes was stimulated by alpha-cyclodextrin, which served as a non-degradable carrier for the hydrophobic substrate. Cells of strain Hxd3 grown on hydrocarbons and alpha-cyclodextrin were used to study the composition of cellular fatty acids and in vivo activities. When strain Hxd3 was grown on hexadecane (C16H34), cellular fatty acids with C-odd chains were dominant. Vice versa, cultures grown on heptadecane (C17H36) contained mainly fatty acids with C-even chains. In contrast, during growth on 1-alkenes or fatty acids, a C-even substrate yielded C-even fatty acids, and a C-odd substrate yielded C-odd fatty acids. These results suggest that anaerobic degradation of alkanes by strain Hxd3 does not occur via a desaturation to the corresponding 1-alkenes, a hypothetical reaction formerly discussed in the literature. Rather an alteration of the carbon chain by a C-odd carbon unit is likely to occur during activation; one hypothetical reaction is a terminal addition of a C-1, unit. In contrast, fatty acid analyses of strain Pnd3 after growth on alkanes did not indicate an alteration of the carbon chain by a C-odd carbon unit, suggesting that the initial reaction differed from that in strain Hxd3. When hexadecane-grown cells of strain Hxd3 were resuspended in medium with 1-hexadecene, an adaptation period of 2 days was observed. Also this result is not in favor of an anaerobic alkane degradation via the corresponding l-alkene.