Autotrophic Carbon Dioxide Fixation via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham Cycle by the Denitrifying Methanotroph “Candidatus Methylomirabilis oxyfera”

Rasigraf et al. (2014). Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80 (8)
Names (1)
Methylomirabilis oxygeniifera Ts
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Biotechnology Ecology Food Science
ABSTRACT Methane is an important greenhouse gas and the most abundant hydrocarbon in the Earth's atmosphere. Methanotrophic microorganisms can use methane as their sole energy source and play a crucial role in the mitigation of methane emissions in the environment. “ Candidatus Methylomirabilis oxyfera” is a recently described intra-aerobic methanotroph that is assumed to use nitric oxide to generate internal oxygen to oxidize methane via the conventional aerobic pathway, including the monooxygenase reaction. Previous genome analysis has suggested that, like the verrucomicrobial methanotrophs, “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” encodes and transcribes genes for the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle for carbon assimilation. Here we provide multiple independent lines of evidence for autotrophic carbon dioxide fixation by “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” via the CBB cycle. The activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO), a key enzyme of the CBB cycle, in cell extracts from an “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” enrichment culture was shown to account for up to 10% of the total methane oxidation activity. Labeling studies with whole cells in batch incubations supplied with either 13 CH 4 or [ 13 C]bicarbonate revealed that “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” biomass and lipids became significantly more enriched in 13 C after incubation with 13 C-labeled bicarbonate (and unlabeled methane) than after incubation with 13 C-labeled methane (and unlabeled bicarbonate), providing evidence for autotrophic carbon dioxide fixation. Besides this experimental approach, detailed genomic and transcriptomic analysis demonstrated an operational CBB cycle in “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera.” Altogether, these results show that the CBB cycle is active and plays a major role in carbon assimilation by “ Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” bacteria. Our results suggest that autotrophy might be more widespread among methanotrophs than was previously assumed and implies that a methanotrophic community in the environment is not necessarily revealed by 13 C-depleted lipids.
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