Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 282–288 | Cite as

Sporomusa termitida sp. nov., an H2/CO2-utilizing acetogen isolated from termites

  • John A. Breznak
  • Jodi M. Switzer
  • H. -J. Seitz
Original Papers


H2-oxidizing CO2-reducing acetogenic bacteria were isolated from gut contents of Nasutitermes nigriceps termites. Isolates were strictly anaerobic, Gram negative, endospore-forming, straight to slightly curved rods (0.5–0.8×2–8 μm) that were motile by means of lateral flagella. Cells were oxidase negative, but catalase positive and possessed a b-type cytochrome(s) associated with the cell membrane. Cells grew anaerobically with H2+CO2 as energy source and catalyzed a total synthesis of acetate from this gas mixture. H2 uptake by a representative isolate (strain JSN-2) displayed a Km=6 μM and Vmax=380 nmol x min-1 x mg protein-1. Other substrates used as energy sources for growth and acetogenesis included CO, methanol, betaine, trimethoxybenzoate, and various other organic acids. Succinate was also fermented, but propionate was formed from this substrate instead of acetate. Of a variety of sugars and sugar alcohols tested, only mannitol supported growth. Cells grew optimally at 30° C and pH 7.2 and required yeast extract or a source of amino acids (e.g. Casamino acids) for good growth. During initial enrichment and isolation, cells appeared sensitive to various reducing agents commonly employed in media for anaerobes. The DNA base composition of strain JSN-2 was 48.6 mol% G+C. On the bases of cell morphology, substrate utilization spectrum, and DNA base composition, strain JSN-2 is here-with proposed as the type strain of the new species Sporomusa termitida.

Key words

Sporomusa termitida Termite Nasutitermes nigriceps Gut microbe Hydrogen Acetogenic anaerobe 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barker SB (1957) Preparation and colorimetric determination of lactic acid. In: Colowick SP, Kaplan NO (eds) Methods in enzymology, vol 3. Academic Press Inc., New York, pp 241–246Google Scholar
  2. Braun K, Gottschalk G (1981) Effect of molecular hydrogen and carbon dioxide on chemo-organotrophic growth of Acetobacterium woodii and Clostridium aceticum. Arch Microbiol 128:294–298Google Scholar
  3. Breznak JA, Pankratz HS (1977) In situ morphology of the gut microbiota of wood-eating termites [Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) and Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki]. Appl Environ Microbiol 33:406–426Google Scholar
  4. Breznak JA, Switzer JM (1986) Acetate synthesis from H2 plus CO2 by termite gut microbes. Appl Environ Microbiol 52:623–630Google Scholar
  5. Brock TD, O'Dea K (1977) Amorphous ferrous sulfide as a reducing agent for culture of anaerobes. Appl Environ Microbiol 33:254–256Google Scholar
  6. Conrad R, Phelps TJ, Zeikus JG (1985) Gas metabolism evidence in support of the juxtapositioning of hydrogen-producing and methanogenic bacteria in sewage sludge and lake sediments. Appl Environ Microbiol 50:595–601Google Scholar
  7. Costilow R (1981) Biophysical factors in growth. In: Gerhardt P (ed) Manual of methods for general bacteriology, chapter 6. American Society for Microbiology. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  8. Flossdorf J (1983) A rapid method for the determination of the base composition of bacterial DNA. J Microbiol Meth 1:305–311Google Scholar
  9. Hager LP, Itagaki E (1967) The preparation and properties of cytochrome b 562 from Escherichia coli. In: Estabrook RW, Pullman ME (eds) Methods in enzymology, vol 10. Academic Press, Inc., New York, pp 373–378Google Scholar
  10. Hanson RS, Phillips JA (1981) Chemical composition. In: Gerhardt P (ed) Manual of methods for general bacteriology, chapter 17. Am Soc Microbiol, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Hermann M, Popoff M-R, Sebald M (1987) Sporomusa paucivorans sp. nov., a methylotrophic bacterium that forms acetic acid from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Int J Syst Bacteriol, 73:93–101Google Scholar
  12. Hungate RE, Smith W, Bauchop T, Yu J, Rabinowitz JC (1970) Formate as an intermediate in the bovine rumen fermentation. J Bacteriol 102:389–397Google Scholar
  13. Kerby R, Zeikus JG (1987) Anaerobic catabolism of formate to acetate and CO2 by Butyribacterium methylotrophicum. J Bacteriol 169:2063–2068Google Scholar
  14. Kristjansson JK, Schönheit P, Thauer RK (1982) Different K s values for hydrogen of methanogenic bacteria and sulfate reducing bacteria: an explanation for the apparent inhibition of methanogenesis by sulfate. Arch Microbiol 131:278–282Google Scholar
  15. Lewis JC (1967) Determination of dipicolinic acid in bacterial spores by ultraviolet spectrometry of the calcium chelate. Anal Biochem 19:327–337Google Scholar
  16. Lewis DH, Harley JL (1965) Carbohydrate physiology of mycorrhizal roots of beech. I. Identity of endogenous sugars and utilization of exogenous sugars. New Phytol 64:224–237Google Scholar
  17. Marier JR, Boulet M (1958) Direct determination of citric acid in milk with an improved pyridine acetic anhydride method. J Dairy Sci 41:1683–1692Google Scholar
  18. Möller B, Ossmer R, Howard BH, Gottschalk G, Hippe H (1984) Sporomusa, a new genus of Gram-negative anaerobic bacteria including Sporomusa sphaeroides spec. nov. and Sporomusa ovata spec. nov. Arch Microbiol 139:388–396Google Scholar
  19. Odelson DA, Breznak, JA (1983) Volatile fatty acid production by the hindgut microbiota of xylophagous termites. Appl Environ Microbiol 45:1602–1613Google Scholar
  20. Ollivier B, Cordruwisch R, Lombardo A, Garcia J-L (1985) Isolation and characterization of Sporomusa acidovorans sp. nov., a methylotrophic homoacetogenic bacterium. Arch Microbiol 142:307–310Google Scholar
  21. Potrikus CJ, Breznak JA (1977) Nitrogen-fixing Enterobacter agglomerans isolated from guts of wood-eating termites. Appl Environ Microbiol 33:392–399Google Scholar
  22. Robinson JA, Tiedje JM (1984) Competition between sulfate-reducing and methanogenic bacteria for H2 under resting and growing conditions. Arch Microbiol 137:26–32Google Scholar
  23. Schauer NL, Ferry JG (1980) Metabolism of formate in Methanobacterium formicicum. J Bacteriol 142:800–807Google Scholar
  24. Schauer NL, Brown DP, Ferry JG (1982) Kinetics of formate metabolism in Methanobacterium formicicum and Methanospirillum hungatei. Appl Environ Microbiol 44:549–554Google Scholar
  25. Schink B, Pfennig N (1982) Propionigenium modestum gen. nov. sp. nov. a new strictly anaerobic, nonsporing bacterium growing on succinate. Arch Microbiol 133:209–216Google Scholar
  26. Schultz JE, Breznak JA (1979) Cross-feeding of lactate between Streptococcus lactis and Bacteroides sp. isolated from termite hindguts. Appl Environ Microbiol 37:1206–1210Google Scholar
  27. Seiler W (1978) The influence of the biosphere on the atmosperic CO and H2 cycles. In: Krumbein W (ed) Environmental biogeochemistry and geomicrobiology, vol 3. Ann Arbor Scientific Publishers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp 773–810Google Scholar
  28. Seiler W, Giehl H, Roggendorf P (1980) Detection of carbon monoxide and hydrogen by conversion of mercury oxide to mercury vapor. Atmos Technol 12:40–45Google Scholar
  29. Widdel F, Pfennig N (1984) Dissimilatory sulfate- or sulfur-reducing bacteria. In: Krieg NR, Holt JG (eds) Bergey's manual of systematic bacteriology, vol 1. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore London, pp 663–679Google Scholar
  30. Widdel F, Kohring G-W, Mayer F (1983) Studies on dissimilatory sulfate-reducing bacteria that decompose fatty acids. III. Characterization of the filamentous gliding Desulfonema limicola gen. nov. sp. nov., and Desulfonema magnum sp. nov. Arch Microbiol 134:286–294Google Scholar
  31. Zehnder AJB, Wuhrmann K (1976) Titanium (III) citrate as a nontoxic oxidation-reduction buffering system for the culture of obligate anaerobes. Science 194:1165–1166Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Breznak
    • 1
  • Jodi M. Switzer
    • 1
  • H. -J. Seitz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Public HealthMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Fakultät für BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanz 1Federal Republic of Germany

Personalised recommendations