Assessment of the oxidant tolerance of Methanosarcina acetivorans

Authors


Correspondence: Daniel J. Lessner, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA. Tel.: +1 479 575 2239; fax: +1 479 575 4010; e-mail: dlessner@uark.edu

Abstract

All methane-producing Archaea (methanogens) are strict anaerobes, but the majority of species are tolerant to oxidants. Methanosarcina species are important environmental and industrial methanogens as they are one of only two genera capable of producing methane with acetate. Importantly, Methanosarcina species appear to be the most oxidant-tolerant; however, the mechanisms underlying this tolerance are poorly understood. We report herein two similar methods (spot-plating and microtiter plate) developed to examine the oxidant tolerance of Methanosarcina acetivorans by viability assessment. Both methods revealed that M. acetivorans can tolerate exposure to millimolar levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) without a complete loss of viability. The exogenous addition of catalase was also shown to protect M. acetivorans from H2O2 toxicity, indicating catalase can serve as an antioxidant enzyme in methanogens even though oxygen is a byproduct. Of the two methods, the microtiter plate method provided a simple, reliable, and inexpensive method to assess viability of M. acetivorans. Combined with recent advances in the genetic manipulation of methanogens, methods in assessment of methanogen oxidant tolerance will aid in the identification of components of the antioxidant defense systems.

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