Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 87, Issue 6, pp 2267–2279 | Cite as

Typical methanogenic inhibitors can considerably alter bacterial populations and affect the interaction between fatty acid degraders and homoacetogens

  • Kewei Xu
  • He LiuEmail author
  • Xiufen Li
  • Jian Chen
  • Aijie WangEmail author
Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology


The effects of two typical methanogenic inhibitors [2-bromoethanesulfonate (BES) and chloroform (CHCl3)] on the bacterial populations were investigated using molecular ecological techniques. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses (T-RFLP) in combination with clone library showed that both the toxicants not only inhibited methanogenic activity but also considerably altered the bacterial community structure. Species of low % G + C Gram-positive bacteria (Clostridiales), high % G + C Actinomycetes, and uncultured Chloroflexi showed relatively greater tolerance of CHCl3, whereas the BES T-RFLP patterns were characterized by prevalence of Geobacter hydrogenophilus and homoacetogenic Moorella sp. In addition, due to indirect thermodynamic inhibition caused by high hydrogen partial pressures, the growth of obligately syntrophic acetogenic Syntrophomonas and Syntrophobacter was also affected by selective inhibition of methanogenesis. Interestingly, by comparing the fermentative intermediates detected in BES- and CHCl3-treated experiments, it was furthermore found that when methanogenesis is specifically inhibited, the syntrophic interaction between hydrogen-producing fatty acid degraders and hydrogen-utilizating homoacetogens seemed to be strengthened.


Methanogenic inhibitor T-RFLP Redundancy analysis Fluorescence in situ hybridization Syntrophic interaction 



We thank the anonymous reviewers for the valuable comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript. This study was financially supported by the Major State Basic Research Development Program (973 Program) of China (No. 2007CB714036), the Tai-Lake Water Specific Program of Jiangsu Province (No. BS2007098), the Key Technologies R&D Program (Social Development) of Jiangsu Province (No. BE2008627), and State Key Lab of Urban Water Resource and Environment (HIT; No. QAK200807).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology, School of Environmental and Civil EngineeringJiangnan UniversityWuxiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of BiotechnologyJiangnan UniversityWuxiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and EnvironmentHarbin Institute of TechnologyHarbinPeople’s Republic of China

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