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No acetogen is equal: Strongly different H2 thresholds reflect diverse bioenergetics in acetogenic bacteria

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Acetogens share the capacity to convert H2 and CO2 into acetate for energy conservation (ATP synthesis). This reaction is attractive for applications, such as gas fermentation and microbial electrosynthesis. Different H2 partial pressures prevail in these distinctive applications (low concentrations during microbial electrosynthesis [<40 Pa] vs. high concentrations with gas fermentation [>9%]). Strain selection thus requires understanding of how different acetogens perform under different H2 partial pressures. Here, we determined the H2 threshold (H2 partial pressure at which acetogenesis halts) for eight different acetogenic strains under comparable conditions. We found a three orders of magnitude difference between the lowest and highest H2 threshold (6 ± 2 Pa for Sporomusa ovata vs. 1990 ± 67 Pa for Clostridium autoethanogenum), while Acetobacterium strains had intermediate H2 thresholds. We used these H2 thresholds to estimate ATP gains, which ranged from 0.16 to 1.01 mol ATP per mol acetate (S. ovata vs. C. autoethanogenum). The experimental H2 thresholds thus suggest strong differences in the bioenergetics of acetogenic strains and possibly also in their growth yields and kinetics. We conclude that no acetogen is equal and that a good understanding of their differences is essential to select the most optimal strain for different biotechnological applications.

TidsskriftEnvironmental Microbiology
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2023

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