Bacterial oxidation of gaseous alkanes


The pathways of oxidation of the normal aliphatic hydrocarbons in biological systems are at the moment mainly matters of conjecture. In a number of studies fa t ty acids have been found after growth of a microorganism in the culture medium in which an individual hydrocarbon was present as the sole source of carbon and energy. This has led to the assumption tha t the hydrocarbon was attacked at a terminal carboa atom, the first identifiable products being the corresponding fa t ty acid. One of the more interesting of these reports concerns the production of heptanoic acid during growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in n-heptanemineral salts medium (SE~EZ and KONOVALTSCmKOFF-MAzoY~ 1956). The yield of heptanoic acid was only about 1 per cent of the n-heptane supplied, and it was accompanied by n-hexanoie, n-valeric, n-butyric, propionic and acetic acids. These authors concluded that n-heptane was oxidized monoterminally, yielding n-heptanoic acid, which in turn gave rise to the lower acids via a hypothetical novel mechanism, namely, successive decarboxylations of a continuous series of saturated monoacids. However, the possibility of alternative mechanisms (STADTMA~, STADTMAN and BAnKE~ 1949; ELSDE~ and LEWIS 1953; KOHL~ILLE~ and GEST 1951), should not be overlooked. Fa t ty acids, some identified and some unidentified, have been isolated from or detected in other bacterialcultures in which long chain aliphatic hydrocarbons were the sole substratcs (RosENFELD 1947 ; T~ECCA~I and CANO~ICA 1953; I-I~SC~ 1958). Analogous results have been obtained with phenyl-substituted long chain aliphatic hydrocarbons (WEBLEY, DUFF and F . ~ E ~ 1956). Each of the foregoing studies was complicated by the fact tha t the majori ty of the oxidation products formed from the substrate hydrocarbons consisted of compounds with carbon chain lengths different from that of the substrate hydrocarbons. Nevertheless, the studies implicate a monoterminal oxidation mechanism of hydro-

DOI: 10.1007/BF00425597

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@article{Leadbetter1960BacterialOO, title={Bacterial oxidation of gaseous alkanes}, author={Edward R. Leadbetter and Joseph W. Foster}, journal={Archiv f{\"{u}r Mikrobiologie}, year={1960}, volume={35}, pages={92-104} }