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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2007 May;91(4):417-22. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Relation between phylogenetic position, lipid metabolism and butyrate production by different Butyrivibrio-like bacteria from the rumen.

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Rowett Research Institute, Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen, UK.


The Butyrivibrio group comprises Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and related Gram-positive bacteria isolated mainly from the rumen of cattle and sheep. The aim of this study was to investigate phenotypic characteristics that discriminate between different phylotypes. The phylogenetic position, derived from 16S rDNA sequence data, of 45 isolates from different species and different countries was compared with their fermentation products, mechanism of butyrate formation, lipid metabolism and sensitivity to growth inhibition by linoleic acid (LA). Three clear sub-groups were evident, both phylogenetically and metabolically. Group VA1 typified most Butyrivibrio and Pseudobutyrivibrio isolates, while Groups VA2 and SA comprised Butyrivibrio hungatei and Clostridium proteoclasticum, respectively. All produced butyrate but strains of group VA1 had a butyrate kinase activity <40 U (mg protein)(-1), while strains in groups VA2 and SA all exhibited activities >600 U (mg protein)(-1). The butyrate kinase gene was present in all VA2 and SA bacteria tested but not in strains of group VA1, all of which were positive for the butyryl-CoA CoA-transferase gene. None of the bacteria tested possessed both genes. Lipase activity, measured by tributyrin hydrolysis, was high in group VA2 and SA strains and low in Group VA1 strains. Only the SA group formed stearic acid from LA. Linoleate isomerase activity, on the other hand, did not correspond with phylogenetic position. Group VA1 bacteria all grew in the presence of 200 microg LA ml(-1), while members of Groups VA2 and SA were inhibited by lower concentrations, some as low as 5 microg ml(-1). This information provides strong links between phenotypic and phylogenetic properties of this group of clostridial cluster XIVa Gram-positive bacteria.

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