Section 25
Chapter 24,444

Decomposition of illuminating gas and carbon monoxide by bacteria

Hasemann, W.

Biochem Zeitschr 184(1/3): 147-171


Accession: 024443854

The author found in preliminary experiments that a certain volume of either CO or coal gas was consumed when left in contact with moist garden soil; when sterilized soil was used, no decrease was noticed. In many of the later experiments, fermentation tubes containing a solution of inorganic salts in water were inoculated with a small amount of garden soil. About 30 cc. of coal gas were introduced into the closed arm and incubation took place at [plus or minus]20[degree] C. in subdued daylight. After [plus or minus]3 weeks, 25 cc. of the gas had been consumed. In the sterile control tubes, diminution in volume was only 2-3 cc., due to absorbtion of the water-soluble constituents. Successive transplants were cultivated under the same experimental conditions to free the culture from heterotropic bacteria. Four varieties of bacteria were isolated: (1) Bacillus oligocarbophilus; (2) B. methanicus; (3) B. pantotrophus; (4) an unidentified bacterium. No one of these bacteria is the sole agent in oxidation of coal gas, which is a mixture principally of H, methane, and CO. (1) Oxidizes H and CO; (2) only methane; (3) and (4) only H. Experiments [with mixtures of CO and air were performed in the same [manner and it was found that B. oligocarbophilus is the only one utilizing C in CO; pure cultures not only utilize CO for growth, but oxidize large quantities of CO to CO2. Whether the organism utilizes the C of CO or that of the CO2 after it is formed was not determined. Other experiments show that it is also able to oxidize H. It does not attack CO under anaerobic conditions. CO bacteria appear to be prevalent everywhere in the upper layers of the soil.

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