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Chemolithotrophic potential of a Hyphomicrobium species, capable of growth on methylated sulphur compounds

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The yield of Hyphomicrobium EG on dimethyl sulphoxide, dimethyl sulphide and methylamine, considering the metabolic pathways of these compounds, suggested that the organism gained energy from the oxidation of the sulphur moiety of the former compounds. Indeed, a comparison of chemostat cultures of Hyphomicrobium EG grown on methylamine in the presence and absence of sulphide or thiosulphate proved this obligate methylotroph to be a chemolithoheterotroph. The apparent Ysulphide and Ythiosulphate were comparable, being 8–10 g dry weight/mol. In batch cultures thiosulphate concentrations up to 10 mM had a stimulatory effect on the growth rate of Hyphomicrobium EG, whereas higher concentrations increased the organisms doubling time.

Enzyme- and respiration data showed that the organism had constitutive enzymes for the breakdown of dimethyl sulphoxide although they were clearly regulated to need. Addition of sulphide or thiosulphate to methylamine-limited chemostat cultures of Hyphomicrobium EG not only resulted in the induction of enzymes necessary for their breakdown, but also caused the enzymes for dimethyl sulphoxide metabolism, especially methyl mercaptan oxidase, to be induced. The formation of H2O2, a product of the latter enzyme, was reflected in the relatively high catalase activities during growth on dimethyl sulphoxide and in the organisms inability to grow on this compound in the presence of a catalase inhibitor.

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dimethyl sulphoxide


dimethyl sulphide


methyl mercaptan


trimethylamine N-oxide


dilution rate


redticed glutathione




phenazine methosulphate


phenazine ethosulphate


ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase


phosphoenol pyruvate carboxylase

Wurster's blue (TMPD):



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Correspondence to G. M. H. Suylen.

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Suylen, G.M.H., Stefess, G.C. & Kuenen, J.G. Chemolithotrophic potential of a Hyphomicrobium species, capable of growth on methylated sulphur compounds. Arch. Microbiol. 146, 192–198 (1986).

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Key words

  • Hyphomicrobium EG
  • Chemolithoheterotrophy
  • Methylotrophy
  • Dimethyl sulphoxide
  • Dimethyl sulphide
  • Thiosulphate
  • Sulphide
  • Yields
  • Physiology