Molecular information suggests that there is a broad diversity of acetogens in the rumen, distinct from any currently isolated acetogens. We combined molecular analysis with enrichment culture techniques to investigate this diversity further. Methane-inhibited, hydrogenotrophic enrichment cultures produced acetate as the dominant end product. Acetyl-CoA synthase gene analysis revealed putative acetogens in the cultures affiliated with the Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae as has been found in other rumen studies. No formyltetrahydrofolate synthetase genes affiliating with acetogens or with 'homoacetogen similarity' scores >90% were identified. To further investigate the hydrogenotrophic populations in these cultures and link functional gene information with 16S rRNA gene identity, cultures were subcultured quickly, twice, through medium without exogenous hydrogen, followed by incubation without exogenous hydrogen. Comparison of cultures lacking hydrogen and their parent cultures revealed novel Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae that diminished in the absence of hydrogen, supporting the hypothesis that they were likely the predominant acetogens in the enrichments. Interestingly, a range of Bacteroidetes rrs sequences that demonstrated <86% identity to any named isolate also diminished in cultures lacking hydrogen. Acetogens or sulphate reducers from the Bacteroidetes have not been reported previously; therefore this observation requires further investigation.
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