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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1987 Dec; 53(12): 2854–2861.
PMCID: PMC204212

Effect of Butanol Challenge and Temperature on Lipid Composition and Membrane Fluidity of Butanol-Tolerant Clostridium acetobutylicum


The effect of butanol challenge (0, 1.0, 1.5% [vol/vol]) and growth temperature (22, 37, 42°C) on the membrane composition and fluidity of Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824 and a butanol-tolerant mutant, SA-2, was examined in chemically defined medium. Growth of strain ATCC 824 into the stationary phase coincided with a gradual increase in the percent saturated to percent unsaturated (SU) fatty acid ratio. When challenged with butanol at 22 and 37°C, ATCC 824 demonstrated an immediate (within 30 min) dose-response increase in the SU ratio. This strain showed little additional change over a 48-h fermentation. Compared with ATCC 824, growth of SA-2 into the late stationary phase at 22 or 37°C resulted in an overall greater increase in the SU ratio for both unchallenged and challenged cells. This effect was minimized when SA-2 was challenged at 42°C, probably due to the combination of the membrane fluidizing effect of butanol and the elevated temperature. Growth at 42°C resulted in an increase in longer acyl chain fatty acids at the expense of shorter acyl chains for both strains. The membrane fluidity exhibited by SA-2 remained essentially constant at various butanol challenge and temperature combinations, while that for the ATCC 824 strain increased with increasing butanol challenge. By synthesizing an increased amount of saturated fatty acids, the butanol-tolerant SA-2 strain has apparently developed a mechanism for maintaining a more stable membrane environment. Growth of the microorganism is necessary for butanol to fluidize the membrane. Incorporation of exogenous fatty acids (18:1) did not significantly improve the butanol tolerance of either strain. Since SA-2 was able to produce only trace amounts of either butanol or acetone, increased tolerance to butanol does not necessarily coincide with greater solvent yields in this strain.

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