Metabolism of methylated osmolytes by aerobic bacteria from Mono Lake, a moderately hypersaline, alkaline environment

Mara R. Diaz, Barrie F. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Three strains of aerobic bacteria were isolated from water and sediment samples of Mono Lake, a moderately hypersaline (90 ppt), alkaline (pH 9.7) lake in California. The organisms, Gram-negative rods, grew fastest at about pH 9.7 with no growth or much slower growth at pH 7.0. All three isolates grew on glycine betaine (GB) and respirometric experiments indicated that catabolism was by sequential demethylation with dimethyl glycine and sarcosine as intermediates. Two of the isolates also grew on dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), one with cleavage of the DMSP to yield dimethylsulfide (DMS) and acrylate, and the other by demethylation with 3-methiolpropionate (MMPA) as an intermediate and the production of methanethiol from MMPA. The methylated osmolytes supported growth at salinities similar to those in Mono Lake, but, at higher salinities, catabolism was suppressed and GB and DMSP functioned as osmolytes. GB and DMSP probably originate from cyanobacteria and/or phytoplankton in Mono Lake and this report is the first indication of both the DMS and demethylation/methanethiol-producing pathways for DMSP degradation in a nonmarine environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-247
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996


  • 3-mercaptopropionate (MPA)
  • 3-methiolpropionate (MMPA)
  • Mono Lake
  • compatible solutes
  • dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP)
  • glycine betaine (GB)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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