Pollutant degradation by a Methylocystis strain SB2 grown on ethanol: bioremediation via facultative methanotrophy

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2011 May;318(2):137-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2011.02249.x. Epub 2011 Mar 14.


A facultative methanotroph, Methylocystis strain SB2, was examined for its ability to degrade chlorinated hydrocarbons when grown on methane or ethanol. Strain SB2 grown on methane degraded vinyl chloride (VC), trans-dichloroethylene (t-DCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), and chloroform (CF), but not dichloromethane (DCM). Growth on methane was reduced in the presence of any chlorinated hydrocarbon. Strain SB2 grown on ethanol degraded VC, t-DCE, and TCE, and 1,1,1-TCA, but not DCM or CF. With the exception of 1,1,1-TCA, the growth of strain SB2 on ethanol was not affected by any individual chlorinated hydrocarbon. No degradation of any chlorinated hydrocarbon was observed when acetylene was added to ethanol-grown cultures, indicating that this degradation was due to particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO) activity. When mixtures of chlorinated alkanes or alkenes were added to cultures growing on methane or ethanol, chlorinated alkene degradation occurred, but chlorinated alkanes were not, and growth was reduced on both methane and ethanol. Collectively, these data indicate that competitive inhibition of pMMO activity limits methanotrophic growth and pollutant degradation. Facultative methanotrophy may thus be useful to extend the utility of methanotrophs for bioremediation as the use of alternative growth substrates allows for pMMO activity to be focused on pollutant degradation.

MeSH terms

  • Autotrophic Processes
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / metabolism*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / metabolism*
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Methylocystaceae / genetics
  • Methylocystaceae / growth & development
  • Methylocystaceae / metabolism*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Ethanol
  • Methane