Multiple and flexible roles of facultative anaerobic bacteria in microaerophilic oleate degradation

M.S. Duarte, Andreia F. Salvador, Ana J. Cavaleiro, Alfons J.M. Stams, M.A. Pereira, M.M. Alves*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Anaerobic degradation of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) involves syntrophic bacteria and methanogens, but facultative anaerobic bacteria (FAB) might have a relevant role as well. Here we investigated oleate degradation by a syntrophic synthetic co-culture of Syntrophomonas zehnderi (Sz) and Methanobacterium formicicum (Mf) and FAB (two oleate-degrading Pseudomonas spp. I1 + I2). Sz + Mf were first cultivated in a continuous bioreactor under strict anaerobic conditions. Thereafter, I1 + I2 were inoculated and microaerophilic conditions were provided. Methane and acetate were the main degradation products by Sz + Mf in anaerobiosis and by Sz + Mf + I1 + I2 in microaerophilic conditions. However, acetate production from oleate was higher in microaerophilic conditions (5% O2) with the four microorganisms together (0.41 ± 0.07 mmol day−1) than in anaerobiosis with Sz + Mf (0.23 ± 0.05 mmol day−1). Oleate degradation in batch assays was faster by Sz + Mf + I1 + I2 (under microaerophilic conditions) than by Sz + Mf alone (under strict anaerobic conditions). I1 + I2 were able to grow with oleate and with intermediates of oleate degradation (hydrogen, acetate and formate). This work highlights the importance of FAB, particularly Pseudomonas sp., in anaerobic reactors treating oleate-based wastewater, because they accelerate oleate conversion to methane, by protecting strict anaerobes from oxygen toxicity and also by acting as alternative hydrogen/formate and acetate scavengers for LCFA-degrading anaerobes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3650-3659
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Early online date9 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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