Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1128/AEM.00093-11
Title (Primary) Formation of alkenes via degradation of tert-alkyl ethers and alcohols by Aquincola tertiaricarbonis L108 and Methylibium spp.
Author Schäfer, F.; Muzica, L.; Schuster, J.; Treuter, N.; Rosell, M.; Harms, H.; Müller, R.H.; Rohwerder, T.
Source Titel Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Year 2011
Department ISOBIO; UMB
Volume 77
Issue 17
Page From 5981
Page To 5987
Language englisch

Bacterial degradation pathways of fuel oxygenates such as methyl tert-butyl and tert-amyl methyl ether (MTBE and TAME, respectively) have already been studied in some detail. However, many of the involved enzymes are still unknown, and possible side reactions have not yet been considered. In Aquincola tertiaricarbonis L108, Methylibium petroleiphilum PM1, and Methylibium sp. strain R8, we have now detected volatile hydrocarbons as by-products of the degradation of the tert-alkyl ether metabolites tert-butyl and tert-amyl alcohol (TBA and TAA, respectively). The alkene isobutene was formed only during TBA catabolism, while the beta and gamma isomers of isoamylene were produced only during TAA conversion. Both tert-alkyl alcohol degradation and alkene production were strictly oxygen dependent. However, the relative contribution of the dehydration reaction to total alcohol conversion increased with decreasing oxygen concentrations. In resting-cell experiments where the headspace oxygen content was adjusted to less than 2%, more than 50% of the TAA was converted to isoamylene. Isobutene formation from TBA was about 20-fold lower, reaching up to 4% alcohol turnover at low oxygen concentrations. It is likely that the putative tert-alkyl alcohol monooxygenase MdpJ, belonging to the Rieske nonheme mononuclear iron enzymes and found in all three strains tested, or an associated enzymatic step catalyzed the unusual elimination reaction. This was also supported by the detection of mdpJK genes in MTBE-degrading and isobutene-emitting enrichment cultures obtained from two treatment ponds operating at Leuna, Germany. The possible use of alkene formation as an easy-to-measure indicator of aerobic fuel oxygenate biodegradation in contaminated aquifers is discussed.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Schäfer, F., Muzica, L., Schuster, J., Treuter, N., Rosell, M., Harms, H., Müller, R.H., Rohwerder, T. (2011):
Formation of alkenes via degradation of tert-alkyl ethers and alcohols by Aquincola tertiaricarbonis L108 and Methylibium spp.
Appl. Environ. Microb. 77 (17), 5981 - 5987 10.1128/AEM.00093-11