Pelotomaculum thermopropionicum bacteria gets its energy from alchohols in a reaction that normally requires an input of energy by forming communities with Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus.

Syntrophic communities contain two or more species (usually single-celled organisms) that are able to degrade and survive on compounds that no single organism could, and feed off each other’s waste products in a relatively efficient cycle. Only a small external energy input is required to maintain the cycle continuously, though cellular reproduction is severely hindered. These communities exist where food and energy sources are extremely limited so some of the species involved have evolved unique biochemical pathways and relationships for their survival. Pelotomaculum thermopropionicum is capable of consuming and deriving energy by digesting propionate and many alchohols that ordinarily require an energy input to break down. The waste products from the break down of these alcohols are acetate and hydrogen gas. If the hydrogen gas waste was allowed to build up in its environment, P. thermopropionicum’s metabolism would be disrupted and it would not be able to survive. However, P. thermopropionicum lives in syntrophic harmony with Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus which rapidly consumes hydrogen to produce methane.

Last Updated August 23, 2016