The Acidophilic Methanotroph Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax 4AC Grows as Autotroph on H2 Under Microoxic Conditions.
ABSTRACT: Emissions of the strong greenhouse gas methane (CH4) to the atmosphere are mitigated by methanotrophic microorganisms. Methanotrophs found in extremely acidic geothermal systems belong to the phylum Verrucomicrobia. Thermophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs from the genus Methylacidiphilum can grow autotrophically on hydrogen gas (H2), but it is unknown whether this also holds for their mesophilic counterparts from the genus Methylacidimicrobium. To determine this, we examined H2 consumption and CO2 fixation by the mesophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax 4AC. We found that strain 4AC grows autotrophically on H2 with a maximum growth rate of 0.0048 h-1 and a yield of 2.1 g dry weight?mol H2 -1, which is about 12 and 41% compared to the growth rate and yield on methane, respectively. The genome of strain 4AC only encodes for an oxygen-sensitive group 1b [NiFe] hydrogenase and H2 is respired only when oxygen concentrations are below 40 ?M. Phylogenetic analysis and genomic comparison of methanotrophs revealed diverse [NiFe] hydrogenases, presumably with varying oxygen sensitivity and affinity for H2, which could drive niche differentiation. Our results show that both thermophilic and mesophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs can grow as autotrophs on H2 as a sole energy source. Our results suggest that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs are particularly well-equipped to thrive in hostile volcanic ecosystems, since they can consume H2 as additional energy source.
Project description:Aerobic methanotrophic bacteria have evolved a specialist lifestyle dependent on consumption of methane and other short-chain carbon compounds. However, their apparent substrate specialism runs contrary to the high relative abundance of these microorganisms in dynamic environments, where the availability of methane and oxygen fluctuates. In this work, we provide in situ and ex situ evidence that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs are mixotrophs. Verrucomicrobia-dominated soil communities from an acidic geothermal field in Rotokawa, New Zealand rapidly oxidised methane and hydrogen simultaneously. We isolated and characterised a verrucomicrobial strain from these soils, Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1, and showed that it constitutively oxidises molecular hydrogen. Genomic analysis confirmed that this strain encoded two [NiFe]-hydrogenases (group 1d and 3b), and biochemical assays revealed that it used hydrogen as an electron donor for aerobic respiration and carbon fixation. While the strain could grow heterotrophically on methane or autotrophically on hydrogen, it grew optimally by combining these metabolic strategies. Hydrogen oxidation was particularly important for adaptation to methane and oxygen limitation. Complementary to recent findings of hydrogenotrophic growth by Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, our findings illustrate that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs have evolved to simultaneously utilise hydrogen and methane from geothermal sources to meet energy and carbon demands where nutrient flux is dynamic. This mixotrophic lifestyle is likely to have facilitated expansion of the niche space occupied by these microorganisms, allowing them to become dominant in geothermally influenced surface soils. Genes encoding putative oxygen-tolerant uptake [NiFe]-hydrogenases were identified in all publicly available methanotroph genomes, suggesting hydrogen oxidation is a general metabolic strategy in this guild.
Project description:Methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia have been found in geothermal environments characterized by high temperatures and low pH values. However, it has recently been hypothesized that methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia could be present under a broader range of environmental conditions. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of three new species of mesophilic acidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs from a volcanic soil in Italy. The three new species showed 97% to 98% 16S rRNA gene identity to each other but were related only distantly (89% to 90% on the 16S rRNA level) to the thermophilic genus Methylacidiphilum. We propose the new genus Methylacidimicrobium, including the novel species Methylacidimicrobium fagopyrum, Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax, and Methylacidimicrobium cyclopophantes. These mesophilic Methylacidimicrobium spp. were more acid tolerant than their thermophilic relatives; the most tolerant species, M. tartarophylax, still grew at pH 0.5. The variation in growth temperature optima (35 to 44°C) and maximum growth rates (µmax; 0.013 to 0.040 h(-1)) suggested that all species were adapted to a specific niche within the geothermal environment. All three species grew autotrophically using the Calvin cycle. The cells of all species contained glycogen particles and electron-dense particles in their cytoplasm as visualized by electron microscopy. In addition, the cells of one of the species (M. fagopyrum) contained intracytoplasmic membrane stacks. The discovery of these three new species and their growth characteristics expands the known diversity of verrucomicrobial methanotrophs and shows that they are present in many more ecosystems than previously assumed.
Project description:The trace amounts (0.53?ppmv) of atmospheric hydrogen gas (H2) can be utilized by microorganisms to persist during dormancy. This process is catalyzed by certain Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Chloroflexi, and is estimated to convert 75?×?1012?g H2 annually, which is half of the total atmospheric H2. This rapid atmospheric H2 turnover is hypothesized to be catalyzed by high-affinity [NiFe] hydrogenases. However, apparent high-affinity H2 oxidation has only been shown in whole cells, rather than for the purified enzyme. Here, we show that the membrane-associated hydrogenase from the thermoacidophilic methanotroph Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV possesses a high apparent affinity (Km(app)?=?140?nM) for H2 and that methanotrophs can oxidize subatmospheric H2. Our findings add to the evidence that the group 1h [NiFe] hydrogenase is accountable for atmospheric H2 oxidation and that it therefore could be a strong controlling factor in the global H2 cycle. We show that the isolated enzyme possesses a lower affinity (Km?=?300?nM) for H2 than the membrane-associated enzyme. Hence, the membrane association seems essential for a high affinity for H2. The enzyme is extremely thermostable and remains folded up to 95?°C. Strain SolV is the only known organism in which the group 1h [NiFe] hydrogenase is responsible for rapid growth on H2 as sole energy source as well as oxidation of subatmospheric H2. The ability to conserve energy from H2 could increase fitness of verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in geothermal ecosystems with varying CH4 fluxes. We propose that H2 oxidation can enhance growth of methanotrophs in aerated methane-driven ecosystems. Group 1h [NiFe] hydrogenases could therefore contribute to mitigation of global warming, since CH4 is an important and extremely potent greenhouse gas.
Project description:Genomic analysis of the methanotrophic verrucomicrobium "Methylacidiphilum infernorum" strain V4 has shown that most pathways conferring its methanotrophic lifestyle are similar to those found in proteobacterial methanotrophs. However, due to the large sequence divergence of its methane monooxygenase-encoding genes (pmo), "universal" pmoA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers do not target these bacteria. Unlike proteobacterial methanotrophs, "Methylacidiphilum" fixes carbon autotrophically, and uses methane only for energy generation. As a result, techniques used to detect methanotrophs in the environment such as (13)CH(4)-stable isotope probing (SIP) and pmoA-targeted PCR do not detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs, and they may have been overlooked in previous environmental studies. We developed a modified SIP technique to identify active methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia in the environment by labeling with (13)CO(2) and (13)CH(4), individually and in combination. Testing the protocol in "M. infernorum" strain V4 resulted in assimilation of (13)CO(2) but not (13)CH(4), verifying its autotrophic lifestyle. To specifically detect methanotrophs (as opposed to other autotrophs) via (13)CO(2)-SIP, a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay specific for verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes was developed and used in combination with SIP. Incubation of an acidic, high-temperature geothermal soil with (13)CH(4) + (12)CO(2) caused little shift in the density distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes relative to controls. However, labeling with (13)CO(2) in combination with (12)CH(4) or (13)CH(4) induced a strong shift in the distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes towards the heavy DNA fractions. The modified SIP technique demonstrated that the primary methanotrophs active in the soil were autotrophs and belonged to the Verrucomicrobia. This is the first demonstration of autotrophic, non-proteobacterial methanotrophy in situ, and provides a tool to detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in other ecosystems.
Project description:Metabolic flexibility in aerobic methane oxidising bacteria (methanotrophs) enhances cell growth and survival in instances where resources are variable or limiting. Examples include the production of intracellular compounds (such as glycogen or polyhydroxyalkanoates) in response to unbalanced growth conditions and the use of some energy substrates, besides methane, when available. Indeed, recent studies show that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs can grow mixotrophically through oxidation of hydrogen and methane gases via respiratory membrane-bound group 1d [NiFe] hydrogenases and methane monooxygenases respectively. Hydrogen metabolism is particularly important for adaptation to methane and oxygen limitation, suggesting this metabolic flexibility may confer growth and survival advantages. In this work, we provide evidence that, in adopting a mixotrophic growth strategy, the thermoacidophilic methanotroph, Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1 changes its growth rate, biomass yields and the production of intracellular glycogen reservoirs. Under nitrogen-fixing conditions, removal of hydrogen from the feed-gas resulted in a 14 % reduction in observed growth rates and a 144% increase in cellular glycogen content. Concomitant with increases in glycogen content, the total protein content of biomass decreased following the removal of hydrogen. Transcriptome analysis of Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1 revealed a 3.5-fold upregulation of the Group 1d [NiFe] hydrogenase in response to oxygen limitation and a 4-fold upregulation of nitrogenase encoding genes (nifHDKENX) in response to nitrogen limitation. Genes associated with glycogen synthesis and degradation were expressed constitutively and did not display evidence of transcriptional regulation. Collectively these data further challenge the belief that hydrogen metabolism in methanotrophic bacteria is primarily associated with energy conservation during nitrogen fixation and suggests its utilisation provides a competitive growth advantage within hypoxic habitats. Overall design: Chemostat cell samples (5 total) of Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17,1 were grown methanotrophically under oxygen excess and oxygen limiting conditions in the presence of NH4+ or N2 as a usable nitrogen source with or without hydrogen gas supplementation into the feedgas
Project description:Metabolic flexibility in aerobic methane oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs) enhances cell growth and survival in instances where resources are variable or limiting. Examples include the production of intracellular compounds (such as glycogen or polyhydroxyalkanoates) in response to unbalanced growth conditions and the use of some energy substrates, besides methane, when available. Indeed, recent studies show that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs can grow mixotrophically through oxidation of hydrogen and methane gases via respiratory membrane-bound group 1d [NiFe] hydrogenases and methane monooxygenases, respectively. Hydrogen metabolism is particularly important for adaptation to methane and oxygen limitation, suggesting this metabolic flexibility may confer growth and survival advantages. In this work, we provide evidence that, in adopting a mixotrophic growth strategy, the thermoacidophilic methanotroph, Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1 changes its growth rate, biomass yields and the production of intracellular glycogen reservoirs. Under nitrogen-fixing conditions, removal of hydrogen from the feed-gas resulted in a 14% reduction in observed growth rates and a 144% increase in cellular glycogen content. Concomitant with increases in glycogen content, the total protein content of biomass decreased following the removal of hydrogen. Transcriptome analysis of Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1 revealed a 3.5-fold upregulation of the Group 1d [NiFe] hydrogenase in response to oxygen limitation and a 4-fold upregulation of nitrogenase encoding genes (nifHDKENX) in response to nitrogen limitation. Genes associated with glycogen synthesis and degradation were expressed constitutively and did not display evidence of transcriptional regulation. Collectively these data further challenge the belief that hydrogen metabolism in methanotrophic bacteria is primarily associated with energy conservation during nitrogen fixation and suggests its utilization provides a competitive growth advantage within hypoxic habitats.
Project description:Aerobic and nitrite-dependent methanotrophs make a living from oxidizing methane via methanol to carbon dioxide. In addition, these microorganisms cometabolize ammonia due to its structural similarities to methane. The first step in both of these processes is catalyzed by methane monooxygenase, which converts methane or ammonia into methanol or hydroxylamine, respectively. Methanotrophs use methanol for energy conservation, whereas toxic hydroxylamine is a potent inhibitor that needs to be rapidly removed. It is suggested that many methanotrophs encode a hydroxylamine oxidoreductase (mHAO) in their genome to remove hydroxylamine, although biochemical evidence for this is lacking. HAOs also play a crucial role in the metabolism of aerobic and anaerobic ammonia oxidizers by converting hydroxylamine to nitric oxide (NO). Here, we purified an HAO from the thermophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph <i>Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum</i> SolV and characterized its kinetic properties. This mHAO possesses the characteristic P<sub>460</sub> chromophore and is active up to at least 80 °C. It catalyzes the rapid oxidation of hydroxylamine to NO. In methanotrophs, mHAO efficiently removes hydroxylamine, which severely inhibits calcium-dependent, and as we show here, lanthanide-dependent methanol dehydrogenases, which are more prevalent in the environment. Our results indicate that mHAO allows methanotrophs to thrive under high ammonia concentrations in natural and engineered ecosystems, such as those observed in rice paddy fields, landfills, or volcanic mud pots, by preventing the accumulation of inhibitory hydroxylamine. Under oxic conditions, methanotrophs mainly oxidize ammonia to nitrite, whereas in hypoxic and anoxic environments reduction of both ammonia-derived nitrite and NO could lead to nitrous oxide (N<sub>2</sub>O) production.
Project description:Methylacidimicrobium cyclopophantes 3B and Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax 4AC are Gram-negative rod-shaped mesophilic methanotrophs isolated from soil samples with low pH at the Solfatara Crater, near Naples, Italy. The genomes of these extremophilic verrucomicrobia were sequenced using Illumina technology, and both species possess one pmoCAB operon and two xoxF genes.
Project description:Biogas upgrading via carbon dioxide hydrogenation is an emerging technology for electrofuel production. The biomethanation efficiency is strongly dependent on a balanced microbial consortium, whose high- resolution characterization along with their functional potential and interactions are pivotal for process optimization. The present work is the first genome-centric metagenomic study on mesophilic and thermophilic biogas upgrading reactors aiming to define the metabolic profile of more than 200 uncultivated microbes involved in hydrogen assisted methanogenesis. The outcomes from predictive functional analyses were correlated with microbial abundance variations to clarify the effect of process parameters on the community. The operational temperature significantly influenced the microbial richness of the reactors, while the H2 addition distinctively alternated the abundance of the taxa. Two different Methanoculleus species (one mesophilic and one thermophilic) were identified as the main responsible ones for methane metabolism. Finally, it was demonstrated that the addition of H2 exerted a selective pressure on the concerted or syntrophic interactions of specific microbes functionally related to carbon fixation, propionate and butanoate metabolisms. Novel bacteria were identified as candidate syntrophic acetate oxidizers (e.g., Tepidanaerobacter sp. DTU063), while the addition of H2 favored the proliferation of potential homoacetogens (e.g., Clostridia sp. DTU183). Population genomes encoding genes of Wood-Ljungdahl pathway were mainly thermophilic, while propionate degraders were mostly identified at mesophilic conditions. Finally, putative syntrophic interactions were identified between microbes that have either versatile metabolic abilities or are obligate/facultative syntrophs.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Aerobic methanotrophs can grow in hostile volcanic environments and use methane as their sole source of energy. The discovery of three verrucomicrobial Methylacidiphilum strains has revealed diverse metabolic pathways used by these methanotrophs, including mechanisms through which methane is oxidized. The basis of a complete understanding of these processes and of how these bacteria evolved and are able to thrive in such extreme environments partially resides in the complete characterization of their genome and its architecture. RESULTS: In this study, we present the complete genome sequence of Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, obtained using Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology. The genome assembles to a single 2.5 Mbp chromosome with an average GC content of 41.5%. The genome contains 2,741 annotated genes and 314 functional subsystems including all key metabolic pathways that are associated with Methylacidiphilum strains, including the CBB pathway for CO2 fixation. However, it does not encode the serine cycle and ribulose monophosphate pathways for carbon fixation. Phylogenetic analysis of the particulate methane mono-oxygenase operon separates the Methylacidiphilum strains from other verrucomicrobial methanotrophs. RNA-Seq analysis of cell cultures growing in three different conditions revealed the deregulation of two out of three pmoCAB operons. In addition, genes involved in nitrogen fixation were upregulated in cell cultures growing in nitrogen fixing conditions, indicating the presence of active nitrogenase. Characterization of the global methylation state of M. fumariolicum SolV revealed methylation of adenines and cytosines mainly in the coding regions of the genome. Methylation of adenines was predominantly associated with 5'-m6ACN4GT-3' and 5'-CCm6AN5CTC-3' methyltransferase recognition motifs whereas methylated cytosines were not associated with any specific motif. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide novel insights into the global methylation state of verrucomicrobial methanotroph M. fumariolicum SolV. However, partial conservation of methyltransferases between M. fumariolicum SolV and M. infernorum V4 indicates potential differences in the global methylation state of Methylacidiphilum strains. Unravelling the M. fumariolicum SolV genome and its epigenetic regulation allow for robust characterization of biological processes that are involved in oxidizing methane. In turn, they offer a better understanding of the evolution, the underlying physiological and ecological properties of SolV and other Methylacidiphilum strains.