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Autonomous growth fluctuations of the methane oxidizing bacterial strain M 102 in batch and continuous culture


The growth rates of the methane oxidizing strain M 102 were unstable. In unlimited batch cultures they ranged from 0 to 1.4 d-1 with most frequent values around 0.25 d-1. The yield coefficients were between 0.1 and 1.6 mg dry weight per mg methane and varied from 1.1 to 0.4 even in a continuous culture with the limiting substrate in the gas phase. It was possible to prove intermitten release and uptake of organic compounds by the definition of a “net” yield coefficient and its theoretical boundaries. The response of the fluctuations to varying dilution frequencies and culture volumes showed analogies to controlled systems. The simultaneous variations in the age distribution and in the excretion pattern revealed the dependence of the dividing stages on a product of the young cells. The mathematical description of the findings suggests that the young cells favor division at their own disadvantage. The consequent autonomous synchronisations are the reason for the unstable growth rates of strain M 102.

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a :

Rate of transitions to dividable cells, i.e., of growth in volume (per time)

A :

equilibrium value of a

b :

rate of transitions to dividing stages (per time)

B :

equilibrium value of b

c :

rate of divisions, i.e. growth in numbers (per time)

C :

equilibrium value of c

d :


D :

dilution rate (per time)

e :

base of the system of natural logarithms (= 2.71828)

E :

extinction at 546 nm in a 1 cm light path, corrected for non-linearities above 0.3. 11 culture with a extinction of 1 contains 625 mg dry weight of bacteria

f :

Control time parameter (-)

F culture, gas :

flow of culture medium, resp. gas phase (volume per time)

g :

control time parameter (-)

k :

partition coefficient (concentration in solution/concentration in gas phase)

k O 2, CH4 :

0.3 mlO 2, CH4/lsolution/volume % in gas phase (1 atm., 21° C)

K :

parameter characterizing the gas exchange conditions (volume per time)

K S :

half saturation constant (concentration); m factor modifying the concentration of gaseous limiting nutrients in culture suspension [Eq. 5.3)]


growth rate (per time)

μm :

maximum growth rate (per time)

n :

factor converting true to apparent concentration of limiting substrate in gas inflow [Eq. (5.2)]

P R i :

portion of cell stage i at equilibrium (tt R )

q :

625 mg dry weight of bacteria/E/lculture

s 1, 2, 3, r :

concentration of limiting substrate, 1 in gas inlet, 2 in gas outlet, 3 in culture suspension, r in inflow of culture medium

S in, out, used :

amount of substrate per time and per volume of whole culture in: entering culture, out: leaving culture, used: transformed within culture

t :


t R :

control time

V :

volume of whole culture

y CH 4,O2 :

yield coefficient of methane, resp. oxygen

z 1,2,3,g,i :

number of cells per volume of culture, 1 adolescent cells (length below 1.6 μm), 2 dividable cells (lenght 1.6 μm or more), 3 dividing cells (two connected spheres), g all cell stages (1+2+3), i cell stage i (1,2 or 3)


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Krambeck, C., Krambeck, H.-. & Overbeck, J. Autonomous growth fluctuations of the methane oxidizing bacterial strain M 102 in batch and continuous culture. Arch. Microbiol. 115, 119–126 (1977).

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Key words

  • Methane oxidizing bacteria
  • Growth
  • Excretion
  • Cell cycle control