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NECESSITY OF READY ELECTRON DISPOSAL AND INTERSPECIES HYDROGEN TRANSFER FOR THE UTILIZATION OF ETHANOL BY RUMEN BACTERIA

  • Hino, T. ;
  • Mukunoki, H. ;
  • Imanishi, K. ;
  • Miyazaki, K.
  • Received : 1992.01.04
  • Accepted : 1992.04.20
  • Published : 1992.09.01

Abstract

Ethanol was utilized by mixed rumen microbes, but addition of pentachlorophenol (25 mg/l), a methanogen inhibitor, suppressed the utilization of ethanol. Carbon monoxide (50% of the gas phase), a hydrogenase inhibitor, more strongly suppressed the utilization of ethanol, propanol, and butanol. These results suggest that the major ethanol utilizers are $H_2$ producers. Ethanol utilization was depressed at low pH (below 6.0). Since methanogens were shown to be relatively resistant to low pH, it appears that ethanol utilizers are particularly sensitive to low pH. Ruminococcus albus and R. flavefaciens in mono-culture produced ethanol from carbohydrate (glucose and cellobiose), even when a high level (170 mM) of ethanol was present. Ethanol was not utilized even in the absence of carbohydrate, but the co-culture of these bacteria with methanogens resulted in the utilization of ethanol, i.e., when $H_2$ was rapidly converted to $CH_4$, R. albus and R. flavefaciens utilized ethanol. These results suggest that ethanol is utilized when the electrons liberated by the oxidation of ethanol are rapidly removed, and ready electron disposal in ethanol-utilizing, $H_2$-producing bacteria is accomplished by the interspecies transfer of $H_2$.

Keywords

Rumen Microbes;Ethanol;Interspecies Hydrogen Transfer

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