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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Extracellular electron uptake in Methanosarcinales is independent of multiheme c-type cytochromes


The co-occurrence of Geobacter and Methanosarcinales is often used as a proxy for the manifestation of direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) in the environment. Here we tested eleven new co-culture combinations between methanogens and electrogens. Previously, only the most electrogenic Geobacter paired by DIET with Methanosarcinales methanogens, namely G. metallireducens and G. hydrogenophilus. Here we provide additional support, and show that five additional Methanosarcinales paired with G. metallireducens, while a strict hydrogenotroph could not. We also show that G. hydrogenophilus, which is incapable to grow with a strict hydrogenotrophic methanogen, could pair with a strict non-hydrogenotrophic Methanosarcinales. Likewise, an electrogen outside the Geobacter cluster (Rhodoferrax ferrireducens) paired with Methanosarcinales but not with strict hydrogenotrophic methanogens. The ability to interact with electrogens appears to be conserved among Methanosarcinales, the only methanogens with c-type cytochromes, including multihemes (MHC). Nonetheless, MHC, which are often linked to extracellular electron transfer, were neither unique nor universal to Methanosarcinales and only two of seven Methanosarcinales tested had MHC. Of these two, one strain had an MHC-deletion knockout available, which we hereby show is still capable to retrieve extracellular electrons from G. metallireducens or an electrode suggesting an MHC-independent strategy for extracellular electron uptake.

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