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Changes in the membrane fatty acid composition in Anoxybacillus flavithermus subsp. yunnanensis E13T as response to solvent stress


Anoxybacillus flavithermus subsp. yunnanensis is currently the first species of strictly thermophilic bacteria that is able to tolerate a broad range of solvents. Unlike most of solvent-tolerant mesophilic bacteria, the bacterium does not synthesize unsaturated fatty acids. Our results revealed that in growing cells of A. flavithermus subsp. yunnanensis E13T, ethanol and toluene resulted in an increase in straight-chain fatty acids, mainly C16:0, leading to a more rigid membrane. Moreover, the increase in straight-chain fatty acids caused by ethanol was much higher than that of toluene. High temperature had little effect on the fatty acid composition by itself, whereas the combined conditions of high temperature and ethanol caused the dramatic increase in straight-chain fatty acids (mainly C16:0), that was balanced by decreasing branched fatty acids. The increase was also temperature dependent. The proportion of C16:0 further increased above 60 °C. No similar evidence was found in four other species of Anoxybacillus. The results suggested that A. flavithermus subsp. yunnanesis seems to develop a different response to solvents compared to its mesophilic counterparts, which consist of an increase in the saturated straight/branched ratio.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31270081).

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Correspondence to Hui Peng.

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Communicated by Friedrich Widdel.

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Peng, H., Yi, L., Zhang, X. et al. Changes in the membrane fatty acid composition in Anoxybacillus flavithermus subsp. yunnanensis E13T as response to solvent stress. Arch Microbiol 199, 1–8 (2017).

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  • Anoxybacillus flavithermus ssp. yunnanesis
  • Organic solvent-tolerant
  • Straight-chain fatty acid
  • High temperature
  • Stress response