Inhibition Studies with 2-Bromoethanesulfonate Reveal a Novel Syntrophic Relationship in Anaerobic Oleate Degradation.
ABSTRACT: Degradation of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) in methanogenic environments is a syntrophic process involving the activity of LCFA-degrading bacteria and hydrogen-utilizing methanogens. If methanogens are inhibited, other hydrogen scavengers are needed to achieve complete LCFA degradation. In this work, we developed two different oleate (C18:1 LCFA)-degrading anaerobic enrichment cultures, one methanogenic (ME) and another in which methanogenesis was inhibited (IE). Inhibition of methanogens was attained by adding a solution of 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BrES), which turned out to consist of a mixture of BrES and isethionate. Approximately 5 times faster oleate degradation was accomplished by the IE culture compared with the ME culture. A bacterium closely related to Syntrophomonas zehnderi (99% 16S rRNA gene identity) was the main oleate degrader in both enrichments, in syntrophic relationship with hydrogenotrophic methanogens from the genera Methanobacterium and Methanoculleus (in ME culture) or with a bacterium closely related to Desulfovibrio aminophilus (in IE culture). A Desulfovibrio species was isolated, and its ability to utilize hydrogen was confirmed. This bacterium converted isethionate to acetate and sulfide, with or without hydrogen as electron donor. This bacterium also utilized BrES but only after 3?months of incubation. Our study shows that syntrophic oleate degradation can be coupled to desulfonation.IMPORTANCE In anaerobic treatment of complex wastewater containing fat, oils, and grease, high long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) concentrations may inhibit microbial communities, particularly those of methanogens. Here, we investigated if anaerobic degradation of LCFAs can proceed when methanogens are inhibited and in the absence of typical external electron acceptors, such as nitrate, iron, or sulfate. Inhibition studies were performed with the methanogenic inhibitor 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BrES). We noticed that, after autoclaving, BrES underwent partial hydrolysis and turned out to be a mixture of two sulfonates (BrES and isethionate). We found out that LCFA conversion proceeded faster in the assays where methanogenesis was inhibited, and that it was dependent on the utilization of isethionate. In this study, we report LCFA degradation coupled to desulfonation. Our results also showed that BrES can be utilized by anaerobic bacteria.
Project description:Long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) are common contaminants in municipal and industrial wastewater that can be converted anaerobically to methane. A low hydrogen partial pressure is required for LCFA degradation by anaerobic bacteria, requiring the establishment of syntrophic relationships with hydrogenotrophic methanogens. However, high LCFA loads can inhibit methanogens, hindering biodegradation. Because it has been suggested that anaerobic degradation of these compounds may be enhanced by the presence of alternative electron acceptors, such as iron, we investigated the effect of sub-stoichiometric amounts of Fe(III) on oleate (C18:1 LCFA) degradation by suspended and granular methanogenic sludge. Fe(III) accelerated oleate biodegradation and hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis in the assays with suspended sludge, with H2-consuming methanogens coexisting with iron-reducing bacteria. On the other hand, acetoclastic methanogenesis was delayed by Fe(III). These effects were less evident with granular sludge, possibly due to its higher initial methanogenic activity relative to suspended sludge. Enrichments with close-to-stoichiometric amounts of Fe(III) resulted in a microbial community mainly composed of Geobacter, Syntrophomonas, and Methanobacterium genera, with relative abundances of 83-89%, 3-6%, and 0.2-10%, respectively. In these enrichments, oleate was biodegraded to acetate and coupled to iron-reduction and methane production, revealing novel microbial interactions between syntrophic LCFA-degrading bacteria, iron-reducing bacteria, and methanogens.
Project description:Long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) can inhibit methane production by methanogenic archaea. The effect of oleate and palmitate on pure cultures of Methanosaeta concilii and Methanosarcina mazei was assessed by comparing methane production rates from acetate before and after LCFA addition. For both methanogens, a sharp decrease in methane production (> 50%) was observed at 0.5 mmol L(-1) oleate, and no methane was formed at concentrations higher than 2 mmol L(-1) oleate. Palmitate was less inhibitory than oleate, and M. concilii was more tolerant to palmitate than M. mazei, with 2 mmol L(-1) palmitate causing 11% and 64% methanogenic inhibition respectively. This study indicates that M. concilii and M. mazei tolerate LCFA concentrations similar to those previously described for hydrogenotrophic methanogens. In particular, the robustness of M. concilii might contribute to the observed prevalence of Methanosaeta species in anaerobic bioreactors used to treat LCFA-rich wastewater.
Project description:Lipids can be anaerobically digested to methane, but methanogens are often considered to be highly sensitive to the long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) deriving from lipids hydrolysis. In this study, the effect of unsaturated (oleate [C18:1]) and saturated (stearate [C18:0] and palmitate [C16:0]) LCFA toward methanogenic archaea was studied in batch enrichments and in pure cultures. Overall, oleate had a more stringent effect on methanogens than saturated LCFA, and the degree of tolerance to LCFA was different among distinct species of methanogens. Methanobacterium formicicum was able to grow in both oleate- and palmitate-degrading enrichments (OM and PM cultures, respectively), whereas Methanospirillum hungatei only survived in a PM culture. The two acetoclastic methanogens tested, Methanosarcina mazei and Methanosaeta concilii, could be detected in both enrichment cultures, with better survival in PM cultures than in OM cultures. Viability tests using live/dead staining further confirmed that exponential growth-phase cultures of M. hungatei are more sensitive to oleate than are M. formicicum cultures; exposure to 0.5 mM oleate damaged 99% ± 1% of the cell membranes of M. hungatei and 53% ± 10% of the cell membranes of M. formicicum. In terms of methanogenic activity, M. hungatei was inhibited for 50% by 0.3, 0.4, and 1 mM oleate, stearate, and palmitate, respectively. M. formicicum was more resilient, since 1 mM oleate and >4 mM stearate or palmitate was needed to cause 50% inhibition on methanogenic activity.
Project description:Methanogenic inhibitors are often used to study methanogenesis in complex microbial communities or inhibit methanogens in the gastrointestinal tract of livestock. However, the resulting structural and functional changes in archaeal and bacterial communities are poorly understood. We characterized microbial community structure and activity in mesocosms seeded with cow dung and municipal wastewater treatment plant anaerobic digester sludge after exposure to two methanogenic inhibitors, 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BES) and propynoic acid (PA). Methane production was reduced by 89% (0.5 mmol/L BES), 100% (10 mmol/LBES), 24% (0.1 mmol/LPA), and 95% (10 mmol/LPA). Using modified primers targeting the methyl-coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) gene, changes in mcrA gene expression were found to correspond with changes in methane production and the relative activity of methanogens. Methanogenic activity was determined by the relative abundance of methanogen 16S rRNA cDNA as a percentage of the total community 16S rRNA cDNA. Overall, methanogenic activity was lower when mesocosms were exposed to higher concentrations of both inhibitors, and aceticlastic methanogens were inhibited to a greater extent than hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Syntrophic bacterial activity, measured by 16S rRNA cDNA, was also reduced following exposure to both inhibitors, but the overall structure of the active bacterial community was not significantly affected.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Oleaginous microalgae contain a high level of lipids, which can be extracted and converted to biofuel. The lipid-extracted residue can then be further utilized through anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. However, long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) have been identified as the main inhibitory factor on microbial activity of anaerobic consortium. In this study, the mechanism of LCFA inhibition on anaerobic digestion of whole and lipid-extracted algal biomass was investigated with a range of calcium concentrations against various inoculum to substrate ratios as a means to alleviate the LCFA inhibition. RESULTS:Whole algal biomass of Nannochloropsis salina represents high lipid content algal biomass while lipid-extracted residue represents its low lipid counterpart. The anaerobic digestion experiments were conducted in a series of serum bottles at 35 °C for 20 days. A kinetic model, considering LCFA inhibition on hydrolysis, acidogenesis as well as methanogenesis steps, was developed from the observed phenomenon of inhibition factors as a function of the LCFA concentration and specific biomass content or calcium concentration. The results showed that inoculum to substrate ratio had a stronger effect on biogas production than calcium, and calcium had no effect on biogas production when inoculum concentration was extremely low. The microbial community analysis by high-throughput Illumina Miseq sequencing indicated that diversity of both bacterial and methanogenic communities decreased with elevation of lipid concentration. Hydrolytic bacteria and aceticlastic methanogens dominated bacterial and archaea communities, respectively, in both high and low LCFA concentration digesters. CONCLUSIONS:This study demonstrated that inoculum concentration has a more significant effect on alleviating LCFA inhibition than calcium concentration, while calcium only played a role when inoculum concentration met a threshold level. The model revealed that each functional microbial group was subject to different levels of LCFA inhibition. Although methanogens were the most susceptible microbes to LCFA inhibition, the inhibition factor for hydrolytic bacteria was more highly affected by inoculum concentration. The microbial community analysis indicated that the bacterial community was affected more than the methanogenic community by high LCFAs concentration. Syntrophic acetogens were sensitive to high LCFA concentrations and thus showed a decreased abundance in such an environment. Graphical abstractProposed mechanism of calcium mitigated LCFA inhibition.
Project description:Fats, oils and greases (FOG) are energy-dense wastes that can be added to anaerobic digesters to substantially increase biomethane recovery via their conversion through long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs). However, a better understanding of the ecophysiology of syntrophic LCFA-degrading microbial communities in anaerobic digesters is needed to develop operating strategies that mitigate inhibitory LCFA accumulation from FOG. In this research, DNA stable isotope probing (SIP) was coupled with metagenomic sequencing for a genome-centric comparison of oleate (C<sub>18:1</sub>)-degrading populations in two anaerobic codigesters operated with either a pulse feeding or continuous-feeding strategy. The pulse-fed codigester microcosms converted oleate into methane at over 20% higher rates than the continuous-fed codigester microcosms. Differential coverage binning was demonstrated for the first time to recover population genome bins (GBs) from DNA-SIP metagenomes. About 70% of the <sup>13</sup>C-enriched GBs were taxonomically assigned to the Syntrophomonas genus, thus substantiating the importance of Syntrophomonas species to LCFA degradation in anaerobic digesters. Phylogenetic comparisons of <sup>13</sup>C-enriched GBs showed that phylogenetically distinct Syntrophomonas GBs were unique to each codigester. Overall, these results suggest that syntrophic populations in anaerobic digesters can have different adaptive capacities, and that selection for divergent populations may be achieved by adjusting reactor operating conditions to maximize biomethane recovery.
Project description:We investigated long-chain fatty acid (LCFA)-degrading anaerobic microbes by enrichment, isolation, and RNA-based stable isotope probing (SIP). Primary enrichment cultures were made with each of four LCFA substrates (palmitate, stearate, oleate, or linoleate, as the sole energy source) at 55 degrees C or 37 degrees C with two sources of anaerobic granular sludge as the inoculum. After several transfers, we obtained seven stable enrichment cultures in which LCFAs were converted to methane. The bacterial populations in these cultures were then subjected to 16S rRNA gene-based cloning, in situ hybridization, and RNA-SIP. In five of seven enrichment cultures, the predominant bacteria were affiliated with the family Syntrophomonadaceae. The other two enrichment cultures contained different bacterial populations in which the majority of members belonged to the phylum Firmicutes and the class Deltaproteobacteria. After several attempts to isolate these dominant bacteria, strain MPA, belonging to the family Syntrophomonadaceae, and strain TOL, affiliated with the phylum Firmicutes, were successfully isolated. Strain MPA converts palmitate to acetate and methane in syntrophic association with Methanospirillum hungatei. Even though strain TOL assimilated [(13)C]palmitate in the original enrichment culture, strain TOL has not shown the ability to degrade LCFAs after isolation. These results suggest that microbes involved in the degradation of LCFAs under methanogenic conditions might not belong only to the family Syntrophomonadaceae, as most anaerobic LCFA-degrading microbes do, but may also be found in phylogenetically diverse bacterial groups.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Slow degradation kinetics of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) and their accumulation in anaerobic digesters disrupt methanogenic activity and biogas production at high loads of waste lipids. In this study, we evaluated the effect of effluent solids recirculation on microbial LCFA (oleate) degradation capacity in continuous stirred-tank sludge digesters, with the overall aim of providing operating conditions for efficient co-digestion of waste lipids. Furthermore, the impacts of LCFA feeding frequency and sulfide on process performance and microbial community dynamics were investigated, as parameters that were previously shown to be influential on LCFA conversion to biogas.<h4>Results</h4>Effluent solids recirculation to municipal sludge digesters enabled biogas production of up to 78% of the theoretical potential from 1.0 g oleate l<sup>-1</sup> day<sup>-1</sup>. In digesters without effluent recirculation, comparable conversion efficiency could only be reached at oleate loading rates up to 0.5 g l<sup>-1</sup> day<sup>-1</sup>. Pulse feeding of oleate (supplementation of 2.0 g oleate l<sup>-1</sup> every second day instead of 1.0 g oleate l<sup>-1</sup> every day) did not have a substantial impact on the degree of oleate conversion to biogas in the digesters that operated with effluent recirculation, while it marginally enhanced oleate conversion to biogas in the digesters without effluent recirculation. Next-generation sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons of bacteria and archaea revealed that pulse feeding resulted in prevalence of fatty acid-degrading Smithella when effluent recirculation was applied, whereas Candidatus Cloacimonas prevailed after pulse feeding of oleate in the digesters without effluent recirculation. Combined oleate pulse feeding and elevated sulfide level contributed to increased relative abundance of LCFA-degrading Syntrophomonas and enhanced conversion efficiency of oleate, but only in the digesters without effluent recirculation.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Effluent solids recirculation improves microbial LCFA degradation capacity, providing possibilities for co-digestion of larger amounts of waste lipids with municipal sludge.
Project description:Terephthalate (TA) is one of the top 50 chemicals produced worldwide. Its production results in a TA-containing wastewater that is treated by anaerobic processes through a poorly understood methanogenic syntrophy. Using metagenomics, we characterized the methanogenic consortium inside a hyper-mesophilic (that is, between mesophilic and thermophilic), TA-degrading bioreactor. We identified genes belonging to dominant Pelotomaculum species presumably involved in TA degradation through decarboxylation, dearomatization, and modified ?-oxidation to H(2)/CO(2) and acetate. These intermediates are converted to CH(4)/CO(2) by three novel hyper-mesophilic methanogens. Additional secondary syntrophic interactions were predicted in Thermotogae, Syntrophus and candidate phyla OP5 and WWE1 populations. The OP5 encodes genes capable of anaerobic autotrophic butyrate production and Thermotogae, Syntrophus and WWE1 have the genetic potential to oxidize butyrate to CO(2)/H(2) and acetate. These observations suggest that the TA-degrading consortium consists of additional syntrophic interactions beyond the standard H(2)-producing syntroph-methanogen partnership that may serve to improve community stability.
Project description:Current challenges in the anaerobic bioremediation of benzene are the lack of capable cultures and limited knowledge on the biodegradation pathway. Under methanogenic conditions, benzene may be mineralized by syntrophic interactions between microorganisms, which are poorly understood. The present study developed an optimized formula for anoxic medium to successfully promote the growth of the putative benzene degrader Deltaproteobacterium Hasda-A and enhance the benzene degradation activity of methanogenic enrichment cultures. Within 70 d of incubation, the benzene degradation activity and relative abundance of Hasda-A in cultures in the new defined medium increased from 0.5 to >3 mg L<sup>-1</sup> d<sup>-1</sup> and from 2.5% to >17%, respectively. Together with Hasda-A, we found a strong positive relationship between the abundances of superphylum OD1 bacteria, three methanogens (Methanoregula, Methanolinea, and Methanosaeta) and benzene degradation activity. The syntrophic relationship between these microbial taxa and Hasda-A was then demonstrated in a correlation analysis of longitudinal data. The involvement of methanogenesis in anaerobic benzene mineralization was confirmed by inhibition experiments. The high benzene degradation activity and growth of Hasda-A were quickly recovered in successive dilutions of enrichment cultures, proving the feasibility of using the medium developed in the present study to produce highly capable cultures. The present results will facilitate practical applications in bioremediation and research on the molecular mechanisms underlying benzene activation and syntrophic interactions in benzene mineralization.