, Volume 172, Issue 6, pp 341-348

Microbial metabolism of methanesulfonic acid

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Methanesulfonic acid is a very stable strong acid and a key intermediate in the biogeochemical cycling of sulfur. It is formed in megatonne quantities in the atmosphere from the chemical oxidation of atmospheric dimethyl sulfide (most of which is of biogenic origin) and deposited on the Earth in rain and snow, and by dry deposition. Methanesulfonate is used by diverse aerobic bacteria as a source of sulfur for growth, but is not known to be used by anaerobes either as a sulfur source, a fermentation substrate, an electron acceptor, or as a methanogenic substrate. Some specialized methylotrophs (including Methylosulfonomonas, Marinosulfonomonas, and strains of ΒΆHyphomicrobium and Methylobacterium) can use it as a carbon and energy substrate to support growth. Methanesulfonate oxidation is initiated by cleavage catalysed by methanesulfonate monooxygenase, the properties and molecular biology of which are discussed.

Received: 12 July 1999 / Accepted: 10 September 1999