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Environ Microbiol. 2009 Jan;11(1):68-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01740.x. Epub 2008 Sep 8.

Effect of sulfate on methanogenic communities that degrade unsaturated and saturated long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).

Author information

1
Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre of Biological Engineering, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal. dianasousa@deb.uminho.pt

Abstract

Anaerobic bacteria involved in the degradation of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), in the presence of sulfate as electron acceptor, were studied by combined cultivation-dependent and molecular techniques. The bacterial diversity in four mesophilic sulfate-reducing enrichment cultures, growing on oleate (C(18:1), unsaturated LCFA) or palmitate (C(16:0), saturated LCFA), was studied by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiling of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments. These enrichment cultures were started using methanogenic inocula in order to assess the competition between methanogenic communities and sulfate-reducing bacteria. Phylogenetic affiliation of rRNA gene sequences corresponding to predominant DGGE bands demonstrated that members of the Syntrophomonadaceae, together with sulfate reducers mainly belonging to the Desulfovibrionales and Syntrophobacteraceae groups, were present in the sulfate-reducing enrichment cultures. Subculturing of LCFA-degrading methanogenic cultures in the presence of sulfate resulted in the inhibition of methanogenesis and, after several transfers, archaea could no longer be detected by real-time PCR. Competition for hydrogen and acetate was therefore won by sulfate reducers, but acetogenic syntrophic bacteria were the only known LCFA-degrading organisms present after subculturing with sulfate. Principal component analysis of the DGGE profiles from methanogenic and sulfate-reducing oleate- and palmitate-enrichment cultures showed a greater influence of the substrate than the presence or absence of sulfate, indicating that the bacterial communities degrading LCFA in the absence/presence of sulfate are rather stable.

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