Author(s): Mller RH, Rohwerder T, Harms H
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Abstract The utilization of the fuel oxygenate methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and related compounds by microorganisms was investigated in a mainly theoretical study based on the Y(ATP) concept. Experiments were conducted to derive realistic maintenance coefficients and K(s) values needed to calculate substrate fluxes available for biomass production. Aerobic substrate conversion and biomass synthesis were calculated for different putative pathways. The results suggest that MTBE is an effective heterotrophic substrate that can sustain growth yields of up to 0.87 g g(-1), which contradicts previous calculation results (N. Fortin et al., Environ. Microbiol. 3:407-416, 2001). Sufficient energy equivalents were generated in several of the potential assimilatory routes to incorporate carbon into biomass without the necessity to dissimilate additional substrate, efficient energy transduction provided. However, when a growth-related kinetic model was included, the limits of productive degradation became obvious. Depending on the maintenance coefficient m(s) and its associated biomass decay term b, growth-associated carbon conversion became strongly dependent on substrate fluxes. Due to slow degradation kinetics, the calculations predicted relatively high threshold concentrations, S(min), below which growth would not further be supported. S(min) strongly depended on the maximum growth rate mu(ma)(x), and b and was directly correlated with the half maximum rate-associated substrate concentration K(s), meaning that any effect impacting this parameter would also change S(min). The primary metabolic step, catalyzing the cleavage of the ether bond in MTBE, is likely to control the substrate flux in various strains. In addition, deficits in oxygen as an external factor and in reduction equivalents as a cellular variable in this reaction should further increase K(s) and S(min) for MTBE.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation