Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen, and Formate Metabolism during Methanogenesis from Acetate by Thermophilic Cultures of Methanosarcina and Methanothrix Strains
CO and H(2) have been implicated in methanogenesis from acetate, but it is unclear whether they are directly involved in methanogenesis or electron transfer in acetotrophic methanogens. We compared metabolism of H(2), CO, and formate by cultures of the thermophilic acetotrophic methanogens Methanosarcina thermophila TM-1 and Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1. M. thermophila accumulated H(2) to partial pressures of 40 to 70 Pa (1 Pa = 0.987 x 10 atm), as has been previously reported for this and other Methanosarcina cultures. In contrast, Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1 accumulated H(2) to maximum partial pressures near 1 Pa. Growing cultures of Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1 initially accumulated CO, which reached partial pressures near 0.6 Pa (some CO came from the rubber stopper) during the middle of methanogenesis; this was followed by a decrease in CO partial pressures to less than 0.01 Pa by the end of methanogenesis. Accumulation or consumption of CO by cultures of M. thermophila growing on acetate was not detected. Late-exponential-phase cultures of Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1, in which the CO partial pressure was decreased by flushing with N(2)-CO(2), accumulated CO to 0.16 Pa, whereas cultures to which ca. 0.5 Pa of CO was added consumed CO until it reached this partial pressure. Cyanide (1 mM) blocked CO consumption but not production. High partial pressures of H(2) (40 kPa) inhibited methanogenesis from acetate by M. thermophila but not by Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1, and 2 kPa of CO was not inhibitory to M. thermophila but was inhibitory to Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1. Levels of CO dehydrogenase, hydrogenase, and formate dehydrogenase in Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1 were 9.1, 0.045, and 5.8 mumol of viologen reduced min mg of protein. These results suggest that CO plays a role in Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1 similar to that of H(2) in M. thermophila and are consistent with the conclusion that CO is an intermediate in a catabolic or anabolic pathway in Methanothrix sp. strain CALS-1; however, they could also be explained by passive equilibration of CO with a metabolic intermediate.