Methanol Production by "Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum" SolV under Different Growth Conditions.
ABSTRACT: Industrial methanol production converts methane from natural gas into methanol through a multistep chemical process. Biological methane-to-methanol conversion under moderate conditions and using biogas would be more environmentally friendly. Methanotrophs, bacteria that use methane as an energy source, convert methane into methanol in a single step catalyzed by the enzyme methane monooxygenase, but inhibition of methanol dehydrogenase, which catalyzes the subsequent conversion of methanol into formaldehyde, is a major challenge. In this study, we used the thermoacidophilic methanotroph "Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum" SolV for biological methanol production. This bacterium possesses a XoxF-type methanol dehydrogenase that is dependent on rare earth elements for activity. By using a cultivation medium nearly devoid of lanthanides, we reduced methanol dehydrogenase activity and obtained a continuous methanol-producing microbial culture. The methanol production rate and conversion efficiency were growth-rate dependent. A maximal conversion efficiency of 63% mol methanol produced per mol methane consumed was obtained at a relatively high growth rate, with a methanol production rate of 0.88?mmol/g (dry weight)/h. This study demonstrates that methanotrophs can be used for continuous methanol production. Full-scale application will require additional increases in the titer, production rate, and efficiency, which can be achieved by further decreasing the lanthanide concentration through the use of increased biomass concentrations and novel reactor designs to supply sufficient gases, including methane, oxygen, and hydrogen.IMPORTANCE The production of methanol, an important chemical, is completely dependent on natural gas. The current multistep chemical process uses high temperature and pressure to convert methane in natural gas to methanol. In this study, we used the methanotroph "Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum" SolV to achieve continuous methanol production from methane as the substrate. The production rate was highly dependent on the growth rate of this microorganism, and high conversion efficiencies were obtained. Using microorganisms for the production of methanol might enable the use of more sustainable sources of methane, such as biogas, rather than natural gas.
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.
Project description:The draft genome of Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, a thermoacidophilic methanotroph of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, is presented. Annotation revealed pathways for one-carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen catabolism and respiration together with central metabolic pathways. The genome encodes three orthologues of particulate methane monooxygenases. Sequencing of this genome will help in the understanding of methane cycling in volcanic environments.
Project description:"Candidatus Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum" SolV is a verrucomicrobial methanotroph that can grow in extremely acidic environments at high temperature. Strain SolV fixes carbon dioxide (CO(2)) via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle with methane as energy source, a trait so far very unusual in methanotrophs. In this study, the ability of "Ca. M. fumariolicum" to store carbon was explored by genome analysis, physiological studies, and electron microscopy. When cell cultures were depleted for nitrogen, glycogen storage was clearly observed in cytoplasmic storage vesicles by electron microscopy. After cessation of growth, the dry weight kept increasing and the bacteria were filled up almost entirely by glycogen. This was confirmed by biochemical analysis, which showed that glycogen accumulated to 36% of the total dry weight of the cells. When methane was removed from the culture, this glycogen was consumed within 47 days. During the period of glycogen consumption, the bacteria kept their viability high when compared to bacteria without glycogen (from cultures growing exponentially). The latter bacteria lost viability already after a few days when starved for methane. Analysis of the draft genome of "Ca. M. fumariolicum" SolV demonstrated that all known genes for glycogen storage and degradation were present and also transcribed. Phylogenetic analysis of these genes showed that they form a separate cluster with "Ca. M. infernorum" V4, and the most closely related other sequences only have an identity of 40%. This study presents the first physiological evidence of glycogen storage in the phylum Verrucomicrobia and indicates that carbon storage is important for survival at times of methane starvation.
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:BACKGROUND:The candidate genus "Methylacidiphilum" comprises thermoacidophilic aerobic methane oxidizers belonging to the Verrucomicrobia phylum. These are the first described non-proteobacterial aerobic methane oxidizers. The genes pmoCAB, encoding the particulate methane monooxygenase do not originate from horizontal gene transfer from proteobacteria. Instead, the "Ca. Methylacidiphilum" and the sister genus "Ca. Methylacidimicrobium" represent a novel and hitherto understudied evolutionary lineage of aerobic methane oxidizers. Obtaining and comparing the full genome sequences is an important step towards understanding the evolution and physiology of this novel group of organisms. RESULTS:Here we present the closed genome of "Ca. Methylacidiphilum kamchatkense" strain Kam1 and a comparison with the genomes of its two closest relatives "Ca. Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum" strain SolV and "Ca. Methylacidiphilum infernorum" strain V4. The genome consists of a single 2,2 Mbp chromosome with 2119 predicted protein coding sequences. Genome analysis showed that the majority of the genes connected with metabolic traits described for one member of "Ca. Methylacidiphilum" is conserved between all three genomes. All three strains encode class I CRISPR-cas systems. The average nucleotide identity between "Ca. M. kamchatkense" strain Kam1 and strains SolV and V4 is ?95% showing that they should be regarded as separate species. Whole genome comparison revealed a high degree of synteny between the genomes of strains Kam1 and SolV. In contrast, comparison of the genomes of strains Kam1 and V4 revealed a number of rearrangements. There are large differences in the numbers of transposable elements found in the genomes of the three strains with 12, 37 and 80 transposable elements in the genomes of strains Kam1, V4 and SolV respectively. Genomic rearrangements and the activity of transposable elements explain much of the genomic differences between strains. For example, a type 1h uptake hydrogenase is conserved between strains Kam1 and SolV but seems to have been lost from strain V4 due to genomic rearrangements. CONCLUSIONS:Comparing three closed genomes of "Ca. Methylacidiphilum" spp. has given new insights into the evolution of these organisms and revealed large differences in numbers of transposable elements between strains, the activity of these explains much of the genomic differences between strains.
Project description:Methanotrophs play a key role in balancing the atmospheric methane concentration. Recently, the microbial methanotrophic diversity was extended by the discovery of thermoacidophilic methanotrophs belonging to the Verrucomicrobia phylum in geothermal areas. Here we show that a representative of this new group, Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, is able to grow as a real 'Knallgas' bacterium on hydrogen/carbon dioxide, without addition of methane. The full genome of strain SolV revealed the presence of two hydrogen uptake hydrogenases genes, encoding an oxygen-sensitive (hup-type) and an oxygen-insensitive enzyme (hhy-type). The hhy-type hydrogenase was constitutively expressed and active and supported growth on hydrogen alone up to a growth rate of 0.03?h<sup>-1</sup>, at O<sub>2</sub> concentrations below 1.5%. The oxygen-sensitive hup-type hydrogenase was expressed when oxygen was reduced to below 0.2%. This resulted in an increase of the growth rate to a maximum of 0.047?h<sup>-1</sup>, that is 60% of the rate on methane. The results indicate that under natural conditions where both hydrogen and methane might be limiting strain SolV may operate primarily as a methanotrophic 'Knallgas' bacterium. These findings argue for a revision of the role of hydrogen in methanotrophic ecosystems, especially in soil and related to consumption of atmospheric methane.
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: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:The Solfatara volcano near Naples (Italy), the origin of the recently discovered verrucomicrobial methanotroph <i>Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum</i> SolV was shown to contain ammonium ([Formula: see text]) at concentrations ranging from 1 to 28 mM. Ammonia (NH<sub>3</sub>) can be converted to toxic hydroxylamine (NH<sub>2</sub>OH) by the particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), the first enzyme of the methane (CH<sub>4</sub>) oxidation pathway. Methanotrophs rapidly detoxify the intermediate NH<sub>2</sub>OH. Here, we show that strain SolV performs ammonium oxidation to nitrite at a rate of 48.2 nmol [Formula: see text].h<sup>-1</sup>.mg DW<sup>-1</sup> under O<sub>2</sub> limitation in a continuous culture grown on hydrogen (H<sub>2</sub>) as an electron donor. In addition, strain SolV carries out nitrite reduction at a rate of 74.4 nmol [Formula: see text].h<sup>-1</sup>.mg DW<sup>-1</sup> under anoxic condition at pH 5-6. This range of pH was selected to minimize the chemical conversion of nitrite ([Formula: see text]) potentially occurring at more acidic pH values. Furthermore, at pH 6, we showed that the affinity constants (K <sub><i>s</i></sub> ) of the cells for NH<sub>3</sub> vary from 5 to 270 ?M in the batch incubations with 0.5-8% (v/v) CH<sub>4</sub>, respectively. Detailed kinetic analysis showed competitive substrate inhibition between CH<sub>4</sub> and NH<sub>3</sub>. Using transcriptome analysis, we showed up-regulation of the gene encoding hydroxylamine dehydrogenase (<i>haoA</i>) cells grown on H<sub>2</sub>/[Formula: see text] compared to the cells grown on CH<sub>4</sub>/[Formula: see text] which do not have to cope with reactive N-compounds. The denitrifying genes <i>nirk</i> and <i>norC</i> showed high expression in H<sub>2</sub>/[Formula: see text] and CH<sub>4</sub>/[Formula: see text] grown cells compared to cells growing at ?<sub>max</sub> (with no limitation) while the <i>norB</i> gene showed downregulation in CH<sub>4</sub>/[Formula: see text] grown cells. These cells showed a strong upregulation of the genes in nitrate/nitrite assimilation. Our results demonstrate that strain SolV can perform ammonium oxidation producing nitrite. At high concentrations of ammonium this may results in toxic effects. However, at low oxygen concentrations strain SolV is able to reduce nitrite to N<sub>2</sub>O to cope with this toxicity.
Project description:Thermoacidophilic methane-oxidizing Verrucomicrobia of the candidate genus Methylacidiphilum represent a bacterial taxon adapted to highly acidic (pH 1-4) and moderate temperature (?65°C) methane-containing geothermal environments. Their apparent ubiquity in acidic terrestrial volcanic areas makes them ideal model organisms to study prokaryotic biogeography. Three Methylacidiphilum species isolated from distantly-separated geothermal regions in Russia, New Zealand, and Italy were previously described. We have explored the intra-taxon phylogenetic patterns of these organisms based on comparative genome analyses and phenotypic comparisons with six new Verrucomicrobia methanotroph isolates from other globally-separated acidic geothermal locations. Comparison of rRNA and particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoCAB) operon sequences indicates a close phylogenetic relationship among the new isolates as well as with the previously characterized strains. All share similar cell morphology including the presence of extensive intracellular inclusion bodies and lack of intracellular membrane systems, which are typical for proteobacterial methanotrophs. However, genome sequence comparisons and concatenated MLST-based phylogenetic analyses separate the new isolates into three distinct species-level groups. Three recently processed isolates from the Azores (each from geographically-separate hot springs within the region) and a single isolate from Iceland are highly similar, sharing more than 88% in silico genome homology with each other as well as with the previous isolate, Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum strain SolV, from Italy. These appear to constitute a distinct European/Atlantic clade. However, two of the new isolates - one from the Yellowstone National Park (United States) and another from The Philippines - constitute separate and novel Methylacidiphilum species. There is no clear correlation between fatty acid profiles and geographic distance between origins, or any phylogenetic relationship. Serological analysis using antiserum raised against M. kamchatkense strain Kam1 revealed large differences in the degree of cross-reactivity with no correlation with other factors. However, the genetic distance between the strains does correlate to the distance between their geographic origins and suggests a global biogeographic pattern shaped by an isolation-by-distance mechanism. These results further confirm terrestrial geothermal springs as isolated islands featuring allopatric prokaryotic speciation.