Characterization of a methane-utilizing bacterium from a bacterial consortium that rapidly degrades trichloroethylene and chloroform. Academic Article uri icon


  • A mixed culture of bacteria grown in a bioreactor with methane as a carbon and energy source rapidly oxidized trichloroethylene and chloroform. The most abundant organism was a crescent-shaped bacterium that bound the fluorescent oligonucleotide signature probes that specifically hybridize to serine pathway methylotrophs. The 5S rRNA from this bacterium was found to be 93.5% homologous to the Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b 5S RNA sequence. A type II methanotrophic bacterium, isolated in pure culture from the bioreactor, synthesized soluble methane monooxygenase during growth in a copper-limited medium and was also capable of rapid trichloroethylene oxidation. The bacterium contained the gene that encodes the soluble methane monooxygenase B component on an AseI restriction fragment identical in size to a restriction fragment present in AseI digests of DNA from bacteria in the mixed culture. The sequence of the 16S rRNA from the pure culture was found to be 92 and 94% homologous to the 16S rRNAs of M. trichosporium OB3b and M. sporium, respectively. Both the pure and mixed cultures oxidized naphthalene to naphthol, indicating the presence of soluble methane monooxygenase. The mixed culture also synthesized soluble methane monooxygenase, as evidenced by the presence of proteins that cross-reacted with antibodies prepared against purified soluble methane monooxygenase components from M. trichosporium OB3b on Western blots (immunoblots). It was concluded that a type II methanotrophic bacterium phylogenetically related to Methylosinus species synthesizes soluble methane monooxygenase and is responsible for trichloroethylene oxidation in the bioreactor.

published proceedings

  • Appl Environ Microbiol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Alvarez-Cohen, L., McCarty, P. L., Boulygina, E., Hanson, R. S., Brusseau, G. A., & Tsien, H. C.

citation count

  • 48

complete list of authors

  • Alvarez-Cohen, L||McCarty, PL||Boulygina, E||Hanson, RS||Brusseau, GA||Tsien, HC

publication date

  • June 1992