One carbon compounds are compounds with one carbon atom, like for example methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO), methanol, and formate. These compounds have an important role in the global carbon cycle and can be found in many environments in nature, including the intestinal tract of animals and humans. Additionally, one carbon compounds are excellent substrates for microbial growth. The anaerobic degradation of these compounds can be coupled to industrial applications and waste(water) treatment. The importance of one carbon compounds in nature and application purposes make it important to study the C-1 metabolism of anaerobic microorganisms. My research focuses on the proteins involved in the anaerobic degradation of methanol, CO, and formate and the genes encoding these proteins.
Methanol metabolism in sulfate reducing bacteria
Methanol degradation in methanogens and acetogens is well described, which is not true for sulfate-reducing bacteria. Recent research on methanol utilization by the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfotomaculum kuznetsovii revealed the presence of two methanol degrading pathways. A cobalt-dependent and cobalt-independent pathway. I aim to purify one of the enzymes involved in the cobalt-independent pathway and try to assess if more sulfate reducing bacteria use two methanol degrading pathways.
CO metabolism in the Desulfotomaculum, Desulfosporosinus and Desulfitobacterium
The sulfate/sulfite reducing bacteria belonging to the Desulfotomaculum, Desulfosporosinus and Desulfitobacterium genera show differences in their CO utilization. These differences range between no growth with CO, due to its toxicity, and growth in the presence of 100% CO. It is interesting to study which strains can grow in what concentration and the available genomes make it possible to research if there is a connection with different CODH complexes and the different abilities to utilize CO.
Formate metabolism in Desulfotomaculum species
Formate is an important intermediate in the syntrophic degradation of butyrate and propionate. Syntrophy is the cooperative growth between two microorganisms that degrade a substance neither can degrade alone. In syntrophy formate can be an important interspecies electron carrier but can also be the substrate of syntrophic growth with hydrogen as the interspecies electron transfer. The latter is not extensively studied. I study the role of formate in syntrophic interactions, between Desulfotomaculum species and methanogens, as interspecies electron carrier and as substrate.