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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1987 Oct;53(10):2379-83.

Effect of extracellular pH on growth and proton motive force of Bacteroides succinogenes, a cellulolytic ruminal bacterium.

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  • Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ithaca, New York.


The utilization of cellulose or cellobiose by Bacteroides succinogenes S85 was severely inhibited at pH values of less than 5.7. Since low pH inhibited the utilization of both cellobiose and cellulose, changes in cellulase activity could not explain the effect. At an extracellular pH of 6.9, the pH gradient (delta pH) across the cell membrane was only 0.07 U. As extracellular pH declined from 6.9 to 5.7, intracellular pH decreased to a smaller extent than extracellular pH and delta pH increased. Below pH 5.7, there was a linear and nearly proportional decrease in intracellular pH. B. succinogenes took up the lipophilic cation tetraphenylphosphonium ion (TPP+) in the presence of cellobiose, and uptake was sensitive to the ionophore valinomycin. As pH was decreased with phosphoric acid, the cells lost TPP+ and electrical potential, delta psi, decreased. From extracellular pH 6.9 to 5.7, the decrease in delta psi was compensated for by an increase in delta pH, and the proton motive force ranged from 152 to 158 mV. At a pH of less than 5.7, there was a large decrease in proton motive force, and this decrease corresponded to the inhibition of cellobiose utilization.

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