Role of Formate and Hydrogen in the Degradation of Propionate and Butyrate by Defined Suspended Cocultures of Acetogenic and Methanogenic Bacteria

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1995 Nov;68(4):281-4. doi: 10.1007/BF00874137.


The butyrate-degrading Syntrophospora bryantii degrades butyrate and a propionate-degrading strain (MPOB) degrades propionate in coculture with the hydrogen- and formate-utilizing Methanospirillum hungatii or Methanobacterium formicicum. However, the substrates are not degraded in constructed cocultures with two Methanobrevibacter arboriphilus strains which are only able to consume hydrogen. Pure cultures of the acetogenic bacteria form both hydrogen and formate during butyrate oxidation with pentenoate as electron acceptor and during propionate oxidation with fumarate as electron acceptor. Using the highest hydrogen and formate levels which can be reached by the acetogens and the lowest hydrogen and formate levels which can be maintained by the methanogens it appeared that the calculated formate diffusion rates are about 100 times higher than the calculated hydrogen diffusion rates.

MeSH terms

  • Butyrates / metabolism
  • Euryarchaeota / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Formates / metabolism*
  • Gram-Negative Anaerobic Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Negative Anaerobic Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Propionates / metabolism


  • Butyrates
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Formates
  • Propionates
  • formic acid
  • Hydrogen