Cultivating anaerobic bacteria in aerobic conditionsSURFBIO
Authors: Ales Lapanje and Tomaz Rijavec, from Jožef Stefan Institute
What is an anaerobic bacteria?Anaerobic bacterias are germs that can survive and grow where there is no oxygen. For example, it can thrive in human tissue that is injured and does not have oxygen-rich blood flowing to it.
What is an aerobic condition?Aerobic is a condition in which free oxygen or dissolved oxygen is present in an aquatic environment. The presence of oxygen is essential for plants, animals and other living organisms.
How you ever asked yourself how do we get anaerobic bacteria in our guts? This is not so trivial question, since these anaerobes we get from different sorts of food and therefore, they must travel through aerobic condition before they settle inside our guts. The solution for this problem might be in formation of aggregates where outer microbes are consuming oxygen and forming anaerobic niches inside such aggregates. This is something that hypothetically can happen in nature, but how can we make such structures in the laboratory. Here we applied the methods used in colloid biology that allow us to join together different types of bacteria in synthetic 3D structures like aggregates (Tatenhove-Pel et al., 2021) and biofilms (Rijavec et al., 2019) – fig 1 and 2. This approach enables growing anaerobic bacteria, here sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB), in flasks on a shaker at aerobic fully oxidized conditions (see formed black precipitate as a prove of growth of SRBs in fig 3).
Using our synthetic structures we can increase efficiency of biologically aided precipitation of toxic metals in remediation processes aiming water clean-up, processes which are currently only efficient under anaerobic conditions. Moreover, this innovative approach of cultivation of anaerobes can also aid other biotechnological processes including biogas and butanol production as well as optimisation of microbial fuel cells.
- Van Tatenhove-Pel, R.J., Rijavec, T., Lapanje, A., van Swam, I., Zwering, E., Hernandez-Valdes, J.A., Kuipers, O.P., Picioreanu, C., Teusink, B. and Bachmann, H., 2021. Microbial competition reduces metabolic interaction distances to the low µm-range. The ISME journal, 15(3), pp.688-701.
- Rijavec, T., Zrimec, J., van Spanning, R. and Lapanje, A., 2019. Natural Microbial Communities Can Be Manipulated by Artificially Constructed Biofilms. Advanced Science, 6(22), p.1901408.