Enrichment cultures that anaerobically degraded oxalate were obtained from lake sediment inocula. From these, 5 pure cultures of anaerobic oxalate-degrading bacteria were isolated and partially characterized. The isolates were Gram-negative, non-sporeforming, non-motile, obligate anaerobes. Oxalate was required for growth and was stoichiometrically converted to formate; 14CO2 was also recovered when 14C-oxalate was added. Maximal growth occurred when the oxalate concentration was 50 mM. Acetate stimulated growth in the presence of oxalate, however, 14C-experiments indicated that acetate was only utilized for cell carbon.
The isolates were either spiral-shaped or rod-shaped organisms. The first morphotype grew much more slowly than the second and exhibited 13-fold lower cell yields. These isolates represent a new strain of oxalate-degrading bacteria. The second morphotype was similar to the anaerobic oxalate-degrading bacteria previously found in rumen. This report extends the known habitats in which anaerobic oxalate-degrading organisms have been found to include aquatic sediments.