Agricultural residues such as sugar beet pulp and citrus peel are rich in pectin, which contains galacturonic acid as a main monomer. Pectin-rich residues are underexploited as feedstocks for production of bulk chemicals or biofuels. The anaerobic, fermentative conversion of D-galacturonate in anaerobic chemostat enrichment cultures provides valuable information toward valorization of these pectinrich feedstocks. Replicate anaerobic chemostat enrichments, with D-galacturonate as the sole limiting carbon source and inoculum from cow rumen content and rotting orange peels, yielded stable microbial communities, which were dominated by a novel Lachnospiraceae species, for which the name "Candidatus Galacturonibacter soehngenii" was proposed. Acetate was the dominant catabolic product, with formate and H2 as coproducts. The observed molar ratio of acetate and the combined amounts of H2 and formate deviated significantly from 1, which suggested that some of the hydrogen and CO2 formed during D-galacturonate fermentation was converted into acetate via the Wood-Ljungdahl acetogenesis pathway. Indeed, metagenomic analysis of the enrichment cultures indicated that the genome of "Candidatus G. soehngenii" encoded enzymes of the adapted Entner-Doudoroff pathway for D-galacturonate metabolism as well as enzymes of the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway. The simultaneous operation of these pathways may provide a selective advantage under D-galacturonate-limited conditions by enabling a higher specific ATP production rate and lower residual D-galacturonate concentration than would be possible with a strictly fermentative metabolism of this carbon and energy source.
- Enrichment culture