Competition between methanogenesis and quinone respiration for ecologically important substrates in anaerobic consortia

Francisco J. Cervantes, Sjirk Van Der Velde, Gatze Lettinga, Jim A. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Anaerobic consortia obtained from a wide variety of environments were tested for oxidizing several ecologically significant substrates with the humic model compound, anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), as terminal electron acceptor. All the substrates, including hydrogen, acetate, propionate, methanol and lactate, were completely or partially converted to methane when bicarbonate was the only electron acceptor available. Addition of AQDS (20 mM) to the cultures prevented methanogenesis in most cases and AQDS reduction became the preferred pathway. AQDS was shown to be toxic for methanogenesis and this effect played an important role in enabling quinone-respiring bacteria to outcompete methanogens. Furthermore, AQDS respiration is thermodynamically more favorable than methanogenesis. All the consortia evaluated were capable of oxidizing hydrogen linked to the reduction of AQDS. Most inocula tested were also able to oxidize acetate and lactate in the same way. When methanol was provided as an electron donor competition between methanogenesis and acetogenesis occurred. Acetate accumulated from the latter process was responsible for quinone respiration. These results suggest that quinone-respiring bacteria are ubiquitous and that quinones in humus may significantly contribute to carbon cycling process by serving as a terminal electron acceptor for the anaerobic microbial oxidation of a wide variety of ecologically important substrates. Copyright (C) 2000 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • AQDS
  • Competition
  • Humus
  • Methanogenesis
  • Quinone respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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