Several non-methylotrophic bacteria have been reported to improve the growth and activity of methanotrophs; however, their interactions remain to be elucidated. We investigated the interaction between Methylocystis sp. M6 and Microbacterium sp. NM2. A batch co-culture experiment showed that NM2 markedly increased the biomass and methane removal of M6. qPCR analysis revealed that NM2 enhanced both the growth and methane-monooxygenase gene expression of M6. A fed-batch experiment showed that co-culture was more efficient in removing methane than M6 alone (28.4 vs. 18.8 µmol·l -1 ·d -1 ), although the biomass levels were similar. A starvation experiment for 21 days showed that M6 population remained stable while NM2 population decreased by 66% in co-culture, but the results were opposite in pure cultures, indicating that M6 may cross-feed growth substrates from NM2. These results indicate that M6 apparently had no negative effect on NM2 when M6 actively proliferated with methane. Interestingly, a batch experiment involving a dialysis membrane indicates that physical proximity between NM2 and M6 is required for such biomass and methane removal enhancement. Collectively, the observed interaction is beneficial to the methanotroph but adversely affects the non-methylotroph; moreover, it requires physical proximity, suggesting a tight association between methanotrophs and non-methylotrophs in natural environments.
- Microbial interaction
- Physical proximity