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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Sep;77(17):6012-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00509-11. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate metabolism in the type II methanotroph Methylocystis parvus OBBP.

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  • 1Environmental, Engineering and Science, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-4020, USA.


Differences in carbon assimilation pathways and reducing power requirements among organisms are likely to affect the role of the storage polymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB). Previous researchers have demonstrated that PHB functions as a sole growth substrate in aerobic cultures enriched on acetate during periods of carbon deficiency, but it is uncertain how C(1) metabolism affects the role of PHB. In the present study, the type II methanotroph Methylocystis parvus OBBP did not replicate using stored PHB in the absence of methane, even when all other nutrients were provided in excess. When PHB-rich cultures of M. parvus OBBP were deprived of carbon and nitrogen for 48 h, they did not utilize significant amounts of stored PHB, and neither cell concentrations nor concentrations of total suspended solids changed significantly. When methane and nitrogen both were present, PHB and methane were consumed simultaneously. Cells with PHB had significantly higher specific growth rates than cells lacking PHB. The addition of formate (a source of reducing power) to PHB-rich cells delayed PHB consumption, but the addition of glyoxylate (a source of C(2) units) did not. This and results from other researchers suggest that methanotrophic PHB metabolism is linked to the supply of reducing power as opposed to the supply of C(2) units for synthesis.

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