Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 141, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Oxalobacter formigenes gen. nov., sp. nov.: oxalate-degrading anaerobes that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract

  • Milton J. Allison
  • Karl A. Dawson
  • William R. Mayberry
  • John G. Foss
Original Papers


This report describes a new group of anaerobic bacteria that degrade oxalic acid. The new genus and species, Oxalobacter formigenes, are inhabitants of the rumen and also of the large bowel of man and other animals where their actions in destruction of oxalic acid may be of considerable importance to the host. Isolates from the rumen of a sheep, the cecum of a pig, and from human feces were all similar Gram-negative, obligately anaerobic rods, but differences between isolates in cellular fatty acid composition and in serologic reaction were noted. Measurements made with type strain OxB indicated that 1 mol of protons was consumed per mol of oxalate degraded to produce approximately 1 mol of CO2 and 0.9 mol of formate. Substances that replaced oxalate as a growth substrate were not found.

Key words

Oxalic acid Oxalobacter formingenes Oxalate degradation Anaerobes Gastrointestinal bacteria Rumen bacteria Taxonomy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allison MJ, Cook HM (1981) Oxalate degradation by microbes of the large bowel of herbivores: the effect of dietary oxalate. Science 212:675–676Google Scholar
  2. Allison MJ, Cook HM, Dawson KA (1981) Selection of oxalate-degrading rumen bacteria in continuous culture. J Anim Sci 53:810–816Google Scholar
  3. Allison MJ, Littledike ET, James LF (1977) Changes in ruminal oxalate degradation rates associated with adaptation to oxalate ingestion. J Anim Sci 45:1173–1179Google Scholar
  4. Allison MJ, Reddy CA (1984) Adaptations of gastrointestinal bacteria in response to changes in dietary oxalate and nitrate. In: Reddy CA, Klug MJ (eds) Current perspectives on microbial ecology. Amer Soc Microbiology, Washington, DC, pp 248–256Google Scholar
  5. Allison MJ, Robinson IM, Bucklin JA, Boot GD (1979) Comparison of bacterial populations of the pig cecum and colon based upon enumeration with specific energy sources. Appl Environ Microbiol 37:1142–1151Google Scholar
  6. Barber HH, Gallimore EJ (1940) The metabolism of oxalic acid in the animal body. Biochem J 34:144–148Google Scholar
  7. Bryant MP (1972) Commentary on the Hungate technique for culture of anaerobic bacteria. Am J Clin Nutr 25:1324–1328Google Scholar
  8. Bryant MP, Burkey LA (1953) Cultural methods and some characteristics of some of the more numerous groups of bacteria in the bovine rumen. J Dairy Sci 36:205–217Google Scholar
  9. Buckel W, Semmler R (1982) A biotin-dependent sodium pump: glutaconyl-CoA decarboxylase from Acidaminococcus fermentans. FEBS Lett 148:35–38Google Scholar
  10. Caldwell DR, Bryant MP (1966) Medium without rumen fluid for the nonselective enumeration and isolation of rumen bacteria. Appl Microbiol 14:794–801Google Scholar
  11. Chandra TS, Shethna YI (1975) Isolation and characterization of some new oxalate decomposing bacteria. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 41:101–111Google Scholar
  12. Dawson KA, Allison MJ, Hartman PA (1980a) Isolation and some characteristics of anaerobic oxalate-degrading bacteria from the rumen. Appl Environ Microbiol 40:833–839Google Scholar
  13. Dawson KA, Allison MJ, Hartman PA (1980b) Characteristics of anaerobic oxalate-degrading enrichment cultures from the rumen. Appl Environ Microbiol 40:840–846Google Scholar
  14. Dimroth P (1982) The generation of an electrochemical gradient of sodium ions upon decarboxylation of oxaloacetate by the membrane-bound and Na+-activated oxaloacetate by the ase from Klebsiella aerogenes. Eur J Biochem 121:443–449Google Scholar
  15. Edwards PR, Ewing WH (1955) Identification of enterobacteriaceae. Burgess Publishing Co., Minneapolis, MNGoogle Scholar
  16. Hagmaier V, Hornig D, Bannwart C, Schmidt K, Weber F, Graf H, Rutishauser G (1981) Decomposition of exogenous 14C-oxalate (14C-OX) to 14C-carbon dioxide (14CO2) in vitro and in animals. In: Smith LH, Robertson WG, Finlayson B (eds) Urolithiasis clinical and basic research. Plenum Press, New York, pp 875–879Google Scholar
  17. Heddleston KL, Gallagher JE, Rebers PA (1972) Fowl cholera: gel diffusion precipitin test for serotyping Pasteurella multocida from avian species. Avian Dis 16:925–936Google Scholar
  18. Hilpert W, Dimroth P (1982) Conversion of the chemical energy of methyl-malonyl-CoA decarboxylation into a Na+ gradient. Nature 296:584–585Google Scholar
  19. Hodgkinson A (1977) Oxalic acid in biology and medicine. Academic Press, Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Holdeman LV, Cato EP, Moore WEC (1977) Anaerobe laboratory manual, 4th ed, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USAGoogle Scholar
  21. Lankhorst A, Counotte GHM, Koopman JP, Prins RA (1979) Rapid characterization of mixed microbial populations in ruminal contents, cecal contents and in feces by a semi-quantitative assay of some hydrolytic enzymes (API ZYME). Z Tierphysiol 41:162–171Google Scholar
  22. Marmur J, Doty P (1962) Determination of the base composition of deoxyribonucleic acid from its thermal denaturation temperature. J Mol Biol 5:109–118Google Scholar
  23. Mayberry WR (1980) Hydroxy fatty acids in Bacteroides species: d-(-)-3-hydroxy-15-methylhexadecanoate and its homologs. J Bacteriol 143:582–587Google Scholar
  24. Mayberry WR (1981) Dihydroxy and monohydroxy fatty acids in Legionella pneumophila. J Bacteriol 147:373–381Google Scholar
  25. Morris MP, Garcia-Rivera J (1955) The destruction of oxalate by rumen contents of cows. J Dairy Sci 38:1169Google Scholar
  26. Pfennig N, Lippert KD (1966) Über das Vitamin-B12-Bedürfnis phototropher Schwefelbakterien. Arch Mikrobiol 55:245–256Google Scholar
  27. Postgate JR (1963) A strain of Desulfovibrio able to use oxamate. Arch Mikrobiol 46:287–295Google Scholar
  28. Quayle JR, Keech DB (1959) Carbon assimilation by Pseudomonas oxalaticus (Ox1) 2. Formate and carbon dioxide utilization by cell-free extracts of the organism grown on formate. Biochem J 72:631–637Google Scholar
  29. Quayle JR, Keech DB, Taylor GA (1961) Carbon assimilation by Pseudomonas oxalaticus (Ox1) 4. Metabolism of oxalate in cell-free extracts of the organism grown on oxalate. Biochem J 78:225–236Google Scholar
  30. Schink B, Pfennig N (1982) Propionigenium modestum gen. nov. sp. nov. A new strictly anaerobic nonsporing bacterium growing on succiante. Arch Microbiol 133:209–216Google Scholar
  31. Shirley EK, Schmidt-Nielsen K (1967) Oxanate metabolism in the packrat, sand rat, hamster, and white rat. J Nutr 91:496–502Google Scholar
  32. Smith RL, Oremland RS (1983) Anaerobic oxalate degradation: widespread natural occurrence in aquatic sediments. Appl Environ Microbiol 46:106–113Google Scholar
  33. Smith RL, Strohmaier FE, Oremland RS (1984) Isolation of anaerobic oxalate-degrading bacteria from freshwater lake sediments. Arch Microbiol (subumitted for publication)Google Scholar
  34. Talapatra SK, Ray SC, Sen KC (1948) Calcium assimilation in ruminants on oxalate-rich diet. J Agri Sci 38:163–173Google Scholar
  35. Watts PS (1957) Decomposition of oxalic acid in vitro by rumen contents. Aust J Agric Res 8:266–270Google Scholar
  36. Zehnder AJB, Brock TD (1979) Biological energy production in the apparent absence of electron transport and substrate level phosphorylation. FEBS Lett 107:1–3Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milton J. Allison
    • 1
  • Karl A. Dawson
    • 2
  • William R. Mayberry
    • 3
  • John G. Foss
    • 4
  1. 1.National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDepartment of AgricultureAmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Quillen-Dishner College of MedicineEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and BiophysicsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

Personalised recommendations