CO dehydrogenase genes found in metagenomic fosmid clones from the deep mediterranean sea

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Dec;75(23):7436-44. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01283-09. Epub 2009 Oct 2.


The use of carbon monoxide (CO) as a biological energy source is widespread in microbes. In recent years, the role of CO oxidation in superficial ocean waters has been shown to be an important energy supplement for heterotrophs (carboxydovores). The key enzyme CO dehydrogenase was found in both isolates and metagenomes from the ocean's photic zone, where CO is continuously generated by organic matter photolysis. We have also found genes that code for both forms I (low affinity) and II (high affinity) in fosmids from a metagenomic library generated from a 3,000-m depth in the Mediterranean Sea. Analysis of other metagenomic databases indicates that similar genes are also found in the mesopelagic and bathypelagic North Pacific and on the surfaces of this and other oceanic locations (in lower proportions and similarities). The frequency with which this gene was found indicates that this energy-generating metabolism would be at least as important in the bathypelagic habitat as it is in the photic zone. Although there are no data about CO concentrations or origins deep in the ocean, it could have a geothermal origin or be associated with anaerobic metabolism of organic matter. The identities of the microbes that carry out these processes were not established, but they seem to be representatives of either Bacteroidetes or Chloroflexi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Bacteroidetes / genetics
  • Chloroflexi / genetics
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Metagenome*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics*
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases
  • carbon monoxide dehydrogenase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/GU058051
  • GENBANK/GU058052
  • GENBANK/GU058053
  • GENBANK/GU058054
  • GENBANK/GU058055
  • GENBANK/GU058056
  • GENBANK/GU058057