The Impact of Oxygen Tension on Cell Density and Metabolic Diversity of Microbial Communities in Alkane Degrading Continuous-Flow Cultures
The impact of the dissolved O2 tension (DOT) and the dilution rate on the metabolic diversity of an autochthonous hexadecane-degrading community in continuous-flow cultures containing hexadecane-coated intertidal sediment was determined in a set of experiments. The DOT was kept constant within each culture at values of 80% (168 μmol O2L−1) or 0.4% (0.84 μmol O2 L−1). The dilution rate was increased from D= 0.012 h−1 to D= 0.06 h−1. To determine the culture activity, we analyzed the hexadecane degradation rate, the protein production rate, and the oxygen consumption rate. The cell concentration of different metabolic groups was determined by colony forming units (CFU), and by most probable number (MPN). The metabolic diversity was determined by the substrate utilization spectrum in Biolog GN microtiter plates. The substrate utilization pattern of the cultures decreased considerably as D increased. This effect was more pronounced at 0.4% of DOT than at 80% of DOT. The MPN and CFU revealed that as D increased, only minor changes occurred in the community structure. The hexadecane degradation rate, the protein production rate, and the oxygen consumption rate increased parallel to D independently of the DOT. This means that the biocenosis at 0.4% of DOT was different from the biocenosis at 80% of DOT, although the metabolic activity of the cultures was unaffected by a 200-factor difference in the oxygen tension and revealed a considerable buffer capacity with respect to changes in DOT.
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