, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 42-46

The internal pH of Clostridium acetobutylicum and its effect on the shift from acid to solvent formation

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Clostridium acetobutylicum was unable to keep a constant pH inside the cells when grown on a phosphatelimited synthetic medium which allowed production of organic acids in a first phase and of solvents in a second phase. At external pH values between 5.9 and 4.3, the cells kept a constant ΔpH of 0.9 to 1.3. A similar ΔpH was measured in continuous culture under solventproducing conditions. The ΔpH was abolished by protonovorous uncouplers, such as tetrachlorosalicylanilide (TCS) or carbonyl-p-trifluormethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP). n-Butanol at concentration of 150 mM and above led also to a complete abolition of the pH gradient.

The internal pH stayed above 5.5 in cultures that shifted from acid to solvent formation. It is concluded that this is a prerequisite for the shift. The possible function of high internal concentrations of butyrate, butyryl phosphate and butyryl coenzyme A in the triggering mechanisms of the shift is discussed.