Effects of bacterial host and dichloromethane dehalogenase on the competitiveness of methylotrophic bacteria growing with dichloromethane

D Gisi, L Willi, H Traber, T Leisinger, S Vuilleumier
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 1998, 64 (4): 1194-202
Methylobacterium sp. strain DM4 and Methylophilus sp. strain DM11 can grow with dichloromethane (DCM) as the sole source of carbon and energy by virtue of homologous glutathione-dependent DCM dehalogenases with markedly different kinetic properties (the kcat values of the enzymes of these strains are 0.6 and 3.3 S-1, respectively, and the Km values are 9 and 59 microM, respectively). These strains, as well as transconjugant bacteria expressing the DCM dehalogenase gene (dcmA) from DM11 or DM4 on a broad-host-range plasmid in the background of dcmA mutant DM4-2cr, were investigated by growing them under growth-limiting conditions and in the presence of an excess of DCM. The maximal growth rates and maximal levels of dehalogenase for chemostat-adapted bacteria were higher than the maximal growth rates and maximal levels of dehalogenase for batch-grown bacteria. The substrate saturation constant of strain DM4 was much lower than the Km of its associated dehalogenase, suggesting that this strain is adapted to scavenge low concentrations of DCM. Strains and transconjugants expressing the DCM dehalogenase from strain DM11, on the other hand, had higher growth rates than bacteria expressing the homologous dehalogenase from strain DM4. Competition experiments performed with pairs of DCM-degrading strains revealed that a strain expressing the dehalogenase from DM4 had a selective advantage in continuous culture under substrate-limiting conditions, while strains expressing the DM11 dehalogenase were superior in batch culture when there was an excess of substrate. Only DCM-degrading bacteria with a dcmA gene similar to that from strain DM4, however, were obtained in batch enrichment cultures prepared with activated sludge from sewage treatment plants.

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