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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Jan;266(2):138-43.

Adaptation of the psychrotroph Arthrobacter chlorophenolicus A6 to growth temperature and the presence of phenols by changes in the anteiso/iso ratio of branched fatty acids.

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1
Department of Microbiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

Arthrobacter chlorophenolicus is a previously described Gram-positive bacterium capable of degrading high concentrations of several phenolic compounds under optimal mesophilic (28 degrees C) as well as psychrophilic (5 degrees C) conditions. However, the exact mechanisms by which this organism is able to tolerate such extremes in temperature and high levels of toxic compounds are currently not known. In this study, we monitored changes in the fatty acid composition of the cell membrane under different extreme growth conditions. Arthrobacter chlorophenolicus adapts to differences in temperature and phenol concentrations by altering the anteiso/iso ratio of fatty acids in the cell membrane to different extents. According to the different physico-chemical properties of those two species of branched fatty acids, the bacteria showed an increased amount of anteiso fatty acids when grown under psychrophilic conditions to decrease the viscosity of their membranes. On the other hand, at higher growth temperatures as well as in the presence of toxic concentrations of phenol, 4-chlorophenol and 4-nitrophenol, the cells adapted their membrane by a dose-dependent decrease in the anteiso/iso ratio, leading to a more rigid membrane and counteracting the fluidity increase caused by the higher temperature and the organic solvents.

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