Degradation of proteins and amino acids by Caloramator proteoclasticus in pure culture and in coculture with Methanobacterium thermoformicicum Z245

Research paper by S. Tarlera, A. J. M. Stams

Indexed on: 01 Dec '99Published on: 01 Dec '99Published in: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


This study investigated the degradation of proteins and amino acids by Caloramator proteoclasticus, an anaerobic thermophilic (55 °C) fermentative bacterium isolated from an anaerobic bioreactor. Experiments were performed in the presence and absence of Methanobacterium thermoformicicum Z245, a methanogen that can use both hydrogen and formate for growth. Higher production rates and yields of the principal fermentation products from gelatin were observed in methanogenic coculture. The specific proteolytic activity in coculture tripled the value obtained in pure culture. C. proteoclasticus fermented glutamate to acetate, formate, hydrogen and alanine. In methanogenic coculture, a shift towards higher amounts of acetate and hydrogen with no alanine production was observed. Extracts of glutamate-grown cells possessed high activities of β-methylaspartase, a key enzyme of the mesaconate pathway leading to acetate. The presence of two enzymes (alanine-α-ketoglutarate aminotransferase and NADH-dependent alanine dehydrogenase) usually involved in the biosynthesis of alanine from pyruvate was also detected. The fermentation of amino acids known to be oxidatively deaminated (leucine and valine) was improved in the presence of both methanogenesis and glycine, a known electron acceptor in the Stickland reaction. Culture conditions seem to be very important in the way C. proteoclasticus disposes of reducing equivalents formed during the degradation of amino acids.