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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1979 Jan;76(1):494-8.

Utilization of trimethylamine and other N-methyl compounds for growth and methane formation by Methanosarcina barkeri.


A number of N-methyl compounds, including several methylamines, creatine, sarcosine, choline, and betaine, were readily fermented by enrichment cultures yielding methane as a major product. Methylamine, dimethylamine, trimethylamine, and ethyldimethylamine were fermented by pure cultures of Methanosarcina barkeri; except for ethyldimethylamine, these amines are considered important substrates of this methanogenic microorganism. Creatine, sarcosine, choline, and betaine were fermented to methane only by mixed cultures. During growth of M. barkeri on methyl-, dimethyl-, or trimethylamine, methanol was not excreted into the medium. The fermentation of trimethylamine gave rise to an intermediary accumulation of methyl- and dimethylamine in the medium. An accumulation of methylamine during the fermentation of dimethylamine was not observed. Methane and ammonia were produced from the three methylamines by M. barkeri in amounts expected on the basis of the appropriate fermentation equations. The growth yield was 5.8 mg of cells (dry weight) per mmol of methane and was not dependent on the kind of methyl compound used as substrate.

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