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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Syntrophic Degradation of Lactate in Methanogenic Co-cultures


In environments where the amount of the inorganic electron acceptors (oxygen, nitrate, sulfate, sulfur oroxidized metal ions (Fe3+;Mn4+) is insufficient for complete breakdown of organic matter, methane is formed as the major reduced end product. In such methanogenic environments organic acids are degraded by syntrophic associations of fermenting, acetogenic bacteria (e.g., sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) as "secondary fermenters") and methanogenic archaea. In these consortia, the conversion of lactate to acetate, CO2 and methane depends on the cooperating activities of both metabolically distinct microbial groups that are tightly linked by the need to maintain the exchanged metabolites (hydrogenandformate) at very low concentrations.

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