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Keywords:

  • fluoroacetate;
  • dehalogenase;
  • rumen;
  • Synergistetes

Abstract

Microbial dehalogenation of chlorinated compounds in anaerobic environments is well known, but the degradation of fluorinated compounds under similar conditions has rarely been described. Here, we report on the isolation of a bovine rumen bacterium that metabolizes fluoroacetate under anaerobic conditions, the mode of degradation and its presence in gut ecosystems. The bacterium was identified using 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis as belonging to the phylum Synergistetes and was designated strain MFA1. Growth was stimulated by amino acids with greater quantities of amino acids metabolized in the presence of fluoroacetate, but sugars were not fermented. Acetate, formate, propionate, isobutryate, isovalerate, ornithine and H2 were end products of amino acid metabolism. Acetate was the primary end product of fluoroacetate dehalogenation, and the amount produced correlated with the stoichiometric release of fluoride which was confirmed using fluorine nuclear magnetic resonance (19F NMR) spectroscopy. Hydrogen and formate produced in situ were consumed during dehalogenation. The growth characteristics of strain MFA1 indicated that the bacterium may gain energy via reductive dehalogenation. This is the first study to identify a bacterium that can anaerobically dehalogenate fluoroacetate. Nested 16S rRNA gene-specific PCR assays detected the bacterium at low numbers in the gut of several herbivore species.