Accelerated glycerol fermentation in Escherichia coli using methanogenic formate consumption

Bioresour Technol. 2014 Jun;162:389-91. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2014.04.011. Epub 2014 Apr 16.


Escherichia coli can ferment glycerol anaerobically only under very defined restrictive conditions. Hence, it was the aim of this study to overcome this limitation via a co-cultivation approach. Anaerobic glycerol fermentation by a pure E. coli culture was compared to a co-culture that also contained the formate-oxidizing methanogen Methanobacterium formicicum. Co-cultivation of the two strains led to a more than 11-fold increased glycerol consumption. Furthermore, it supported a constantly neutral pH and a shift from ethanol to succinate production. Moreover, M. formicicum was analyzed for its ability to grow on different standard media and a surprising versatility could be demonstrated.

Keywords: Co-culture; E. coli; Formate; Glycerol fermentation; M. formicicum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis / drug effects
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Culture Media / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Euryarchaeota / drug effects
  • Euryarchaeota / metabolism
  • Fermentation* / drug effects
  • Formates / metabolism*
  • Glycerol / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Methane / metabolism*


  • Culture Media
  • Formates
  • formic acid
  • Methane
  • Glycerol