Isolating and Characterising Anaerobic Bacteria from Antarctic Seawater

By: Abdul Rasyid Bin Haji Hussein
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Acetogens are obligate anaerobic bacteria that employ the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (or also known as, acetyl-coA pathway) to synthesise acetyl-coA as a precursor metabolite for the production of volatile fatty acids and alcohols. The interesting metabolic capabilities of acetogens to grow both heterotrophically on a wide range of carbon substrates as well as autotrophically on synthesis gases such as H2/CO2/CO make them a very useful microbial host for modern biotechnology as not only they are economically effective but also they can provide renewable, sustainable and clean energy sources. Several acetogenic strains from the Signy island, Antarctic have been isolated and enriched in an anoxic acetate-free media containing CO2/H2(g). Some of the acetogenic strains growth seemed to be accelerated by the presence of wood in their culture media. Volatile fatty acid analysis indicated that acetate was the main major product for almost all of the isolated strains. 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing was unsuccessful therefore analysis of phylogenetic relationships was unable to be conducted. Comparative experiment on growth at 15°C between cultured strains from Factory Cove and North Point demonstrated that they possessed different temperature-tolerating capabilities. The existence of acetogens in the Antarctic reflects its importance in the ecology function of the Antarctic particularly for contributing to the global carbon cycles and furthermore, its unique metabolic properties hold important practical values for biotechnological application.

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