The isolate Caproiciproducens sp. 7d4c2 produces n-caproate at mildly acidic conditions from hexoses: Genome and rBOX comparison with related strains and chain-elongating bacteria
Reference: Frontiers in Microbiology (2021) 11: 594524-594524

Bulk production of medium-chain carboxylates (MCCs) with 6-12 carbon atoms is of great interest to biotechnology. Open cultures (e.g., reactor microbiomes) have been utilized to generate MCCs in bioreactors. When in-line MCC extraction and prevention of product inhibition is required, the bioreactors have been operated at mildly acidic pH (5.0-5.5). However, model chain-elongating bacteria grow optimally at neutral pH values. Here, we isolated a chain-elongating bacterium (strain 7D4C2) that grows at mildly acidic pH. We studied its metabolism and compared its whole genome and the reverse β-oxidation (rBOX) genes to other bacteria. Strain 7D4C2 produces lactate, acetate, n-butyrate, n-caproate, biomass, and H(2)/CO(2) from hexoses. With only fructose as substrate (pH 5.5), the maximum n-caproate specificity (i.e., products per other carboxylates produced) was 60.9 ± 1.5%. However, this was considerably higher at 83.1 ± 0.44% when both fructose and n-butyrate (electron acceptor) were combined as a substrate. A comparison of 7D4C2 cultures with fructose and n-butyrate with an increasing pH value from 4.5 to 9.0 showed a decreasing n-caproate specificity from ∼92% at mildly acidic pH (pH 4.5-5.0) to ∼24% at alkaline pH (pH 9.0). Moreover, when carboxylates were extracted from the broth (undissociated n-caproic acid was ∼0.3 mM), the n-caproate selectivity (i.e., product per substrate fed) was 42.6 ± 19.0% higher compared to 7D4C2 cultures without extraction. Based on the 16S rRNA gene sequence, strain 7D4C2 is most closely related to the isolates Caproicibacter fermentans (99.5%) and Caproiciproducens galactitolivorans (94.7%), which are chain-elongating bacteria that are also capable of lactate production. Whole-genome analyses indicate that strain 7D4C2, C. fermentans, and C. galactitolivorans belong to the same genus of Caproiciproducens. Their rBOX genes are conserved and located next to each other, forming a gene cluster, which is different than for other chain-elongating bacteria such as Megasphaera spp. In conclusion, Caproiciproducens spp., comprising strain 7D4C2, C. fermentans, C. galactitolivorans, and several unclassified strains, are chain-elongating bacteria that encode a highly conserved rBOX gene cluster. Caproiciproducens sp. 7D4C2 (DSM 110548) was studied here to understand n-caproate production better at mildly acidic pH within microbiomes and has the additional potential as a pure-culture production strain to convert sugars into n-caproate.

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Esquivel-Elizondo S., Bagci C., Temovska M., Jeon B.S., Bessarab I., Williams R. B. H., Huson D.H., Angenent L.T.