Production of organic molecules is largely depending on fossil fuels. A sustainable alternative would be the synthesis of these compounds from CO2 and a cheap energy source, such as H2, CH4, NH3, CO, sulfur compounds or iron(II). Volcanic and geothermal areas are rich in CO2 and reduced inorganic gasses and therefore habitats where novel chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms for the synthesis of organic compounds could be discovered. Here we describe “Candidatus Hydrogenisulfobacillus filiaventi” R50 gen. nov., sp. nov., a thermoacidophilic, autotrophic H2-oxidizing microorganism, that fixed CO2 and excreted no less than 0.54 mol organic carbon per mole fixed CO2. Extensive metabolomics and NMR analyses revealed that Val, Ala and Ile are the most dominant form of excreted organic carbon while the aromatic amino acids Tyr and Phe, and Glu and Lys were present at much lower concentrations. In addition to these proteinogenic amino acids, the excreted carbon consisted of homoserine lactone, homoserine and an unidentified amino acid. The biological role of the excretion remains uncertain. In the laboratory, we noticed the production under high growth rates (0.034 h−1, doubling time of 20 h) in combination with O2-limitation, which will most likely not occur in the natural habitat of this strain. Nevertheless, this large production of extracellular organic molecules from CO2 may open possibilities to use chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms for the sustainable production of important biomolecules.
Methylomirabilis oxyfera” is a newly discovered anaerobic methanotroph that, surprisingly, oxidizes methane through an aerobic methane oxidation pathway. The second step in this aerobic pathway is the oxidation of methanol. In Gram-negative bacteria, the reaction is catalyzed by pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ)-dependent methanol dehydrogenase (MDH). The genome of “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” putatively encodes three different MDHs that are localized in one large gene cluster: one so-called MxaFI-type MDH and two XoxF-type MDHs (XoxF1 and XoxF2). MxaFI MDHs represent the canonical enzymes, which are composed of two PQQ-containing large (α) subunits (MxaF) and two small (β) subunits (MxaI). XoxF MDHs are novel, ecologically widespread, but poorly investigated types of MDHs that can be phylogenetically divided into at least five different clades. The XoxF MDHs described thus far are homodimeric proteins containing a large subunit only. Here, we purified a heterotetrameric MDH from “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” that consisted of two XoxF and two MxaI subunits. The enzyme was localized in the periplasm of “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” cells and catalyzed methanol oxidation with appreciable specific activity and affinity (
of 10 μmol min
of 17 μM). PQQ was present as the prosthetic group, which has to be taken up from the environment since the known gene inventory required for the synthesis of this cofactor is lacking. The MDH from “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” is the first representative of type 1 XoxF proteins to be described.