Bacterial metabolism of methylated amines and identification of novel methylotrophs in Movile Cave

Daniela Wischer, Deepak Kumaresan, Antonia Johnston, Myriam El Khawand, Jason Stephenson, Alexandra M Hillebrand-Voiculescu, Yin Chen, J Colin Murrell

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Movile Cave, Romania, is an unusual underground ecosystem that has been sealed off from the outside world for several million years and is sustained by non-phototrophic carbon fixation. Methane and sulfur-oxidising bacteria are the main primary producers, supporting a complex food web that includes bacteria, fungi and cave-adapted invertebrates. A range of methylotrophic bacteria in Movile Cave grow on one-carbon compounds including methylated amines, which are produced via decomposition of organic-rich microbial mats. The role of methylated amines as a carbon and nitrogen source for bacteria in Movile Cave was investigated using a combination of cultivation studies and DNA stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP) using 13 C-monomethylamine (MMA). Two newly developed primer sets targeting the gene for gamma-glutamylmethylamide synthetase (gmaS), the first enzyme of the recently-discovered indirect MMA-oxidation pathway, were applied in functional gene probing. SIP experiments revealed that the obligate methylotroph Methylotenera mobilis is one of the dominant MMA utilisers in the cave. DNA-SIP experiments also showed that a new facultative methylotroph isolated in this study, Catellibacterium sp. LW-1 is probably one of the most active MMA utilisers in Movile Cave. Methylated amines were also used as a nitrogen source by a wide range of non-methylotrophic bacteria in Movile Cave. PCR-based screening of bacterial isolates suggested that the indirect MMA-oxidation pathway involving GMA and N-methylglutamate is widespread among both methylotrophic and non-methylotrophic MMA utilisers from the cave.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-206
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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