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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Genome-Guided Analysis and Whole Transcriptome Profiling of the Mesophilic Syntrophic Acetate Oxidising Bacterium Syntrophaceticus schinkii

Manzoor, Shahid; Bongcam-Rudloff, Erik; Schnürer, Anna; Müller, Bettina


Syntrophaceticus schinkii is a mesophilic, anaerobic bacterium capable of oxidising acetate to CO2 and H-2 in intimate association with a methanogenic partner, a syntrophic relationship which operates close to the energetic limits of microbial life. Syntrophaceticus schinkii has been identified as a key organism in engineered methane-producing processes relying on syntrophic acetate oxidation as the main methane-producing pathway. However, due to strict cultivation requirements and difficulties in reconstituting the thermodynamically unfavourable acetate oxidation, the physiology of this functional group is poorly understood. Genome-guided and whole transcriptome analyses performed in the present study provide new insights into habitat adaptation, syntrophic acetate oxidation and energy conservation. The working draft genome of Syntrophaceticus schinkii indicates limited metabolic capacities, with lack of organic nutrient uptake systems, chemotactic machineries, carbon catabolite repression and incomplete biosynthesis pathways. Ech hydrogenase, [ FeFe] hydrogenases, [ NiFe] hydrogenases, F1F0-ATP synthase and membrane-bound and cytoplasmic formate dehydrogenases were found clearly expressed, whereas Rnf and a predicted oxidoreductase/heterodisulphide reductase complex, both found encoded in the genome, were not expressed under syntrophic growth condition. A transporter sharing similarities to the high-affinity acetate transporters of aceticlastic methanogens was also found expressed, suggesting that Syntrophaceticus schinkii can potentially compete with methanogens for acetate. Acetate oxidation seems to proceed via the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway as all genes involved in this pathway were highly expressed. This study shows that Syntrophaceticus schinkii is a highly specialised, habitat-adapted organism relying on syntrophic acetate oxidation rather than metabolic versatility. By expanding its complement of respiratory complexes, it might overcome limiting bioenergetic barriers, and drive efficient energy conservation from reactions operating close to the thermodynamic equilibrium, which might enable S. schinkii to occupy the same niche as the aceticlastic methanogens. The knowledge gained here will help specify process conditions supporting efficient and robust biogas production and will help identify mechanisms important for the syntrophic lifestyle.

Published in

2016, volume: 11, number: 11, article number: e0166520

Authors' information

Manzoor, Shahid
University of the Punjab
Bongcam-Rudloff, Erik (Bongcam Rudloff, Erik)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology

UKÄ Subject classification

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

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