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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Energetics of syntrophic propionate oxidation in defined batch and chemostat cocultures.

Propionate consumption was studied in syntrophic batch and chemostat cocultures of Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans and Methanospirillum hungatei. The Gibbs free energy available for the H(2)-consuming methanogens was <-20 kJ mol of CH(4)(-1) and thus allowed the synthesis of 1/3 mol of ATP per reaction. The Gibbs free energy available for the propionate oxidizer, on the other hand, was usually >-10 kJ mol of propionate(-1). Nevertheless, the syntrophic coculture grew in the chemostat at steady-state rates of 0.04 to 0. 07 day(-1) and produced maximum biomass yields of 2.6 g mol of propionate(-1) and 7.6 g mol of CH(4)(-1) for S. fumaroxidans and M. hungatei, respectively. The energy efficiency for syntrophic growth of S. fumaroxidans, i.e., the biomass produced per unit of available Gibbs free energy was comparable to a theoretical growth yield of 5 to 12 g mol of ATP(-1). However, a lower growth efficiency was observed when sulfate served as an additional electron acceptor, suggesting inefficient energy conservation in the presence of sulfate. The maintenance Gibbs free energy determined from the maintenance coefficient of syntrophically grown S. fumaroxidans was surprisingly low (0.14 kJ h(-1) mol of biomass C(-1)) compared to the theoretical value. On the other hand, the Gibbs free-energy dissipation per mole of biomass C produced was much higher than expected. We conclude that the small Gibbs free energy available in many methanogenic environments is sufficient for syntrophic propionate oxidizers to survive on a Gibbs free energy that is much lower than that theoretically predicted.[1]


  1. Energetics of syntrophic propionate oxidation in defined batch and chemostat cocultures. Scholten, J.C., Conrad, R. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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