Symbiotic riboflavin degradation by Microbacterium and Nocardioides bacteria

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2020 May;84(5):1056-1061. doi: 10.1080/09168451.2020.1715783. Epub 2020 Jan 20.


Unlike its biosynthetic mechanisms and physiological function, current understanding of riboflavin degradation in soil is limited to a few bacteria that decompose it to lumichrome. Here, we isolated six Microbacterium and three Nocardioides strains. These strains utilized riboflavin and lumichrome, respectively, as carbon sources. Among these strains, we identified Microbacterium paraoxydans R16 (R16) and Nocardioides nitrophenolicus L16 (L16), which were isolated form the same enrichment culture. Co-cultured R16 and L16 reconstituted a riboflavin-degrading interspecies consortium, in which the R16 strain degraded riboflavin to lumichrome and ᴅ-ribose. The L16 strain utilized the lumichrome as a carbon source, indicating that R16 is required for L16 to grow in the consortium. Notably, rates of riboflavin degradation and growth were increased in co-cultured, compared with monocultured R16 cells. These results indicated that a beneficial symbiotic interaction between M. paraoxydans R16 and N. nitrophenolicus L16 results in the ability to degrade riboflavin.

Keywords: Lumichrome; bacterial consortium; co-culture; mutualism; symbiosis.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Coculture Techniques
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Flavins / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Microbacterium / genetics
  • Microbacterium / metabolism
  • Nocardioides / genetics
  • Nocardioides / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Riboflavin / metabolism
  • Ribose / metabolism
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Symbiosis / physiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Flavins
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • 7,8-dimethylalloxazine
  • Ribose
  • Riboflavin

Supplementary concepts

  • Microbacterium paraoxydans
  • Nocardioides nitrophenolicus