The role of the storage lipid poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) in trichloroethylene transformation by methanotrophic mixed cultures was investigated. Naphthalene oxidation rates were used to assay for soluble methane monooxygenase activity. The PHB content of methanotrophic cells grown in reactors varied diurnally as well as from day to day. A positive correlation between the amount of PHB in the cells and the naphthalene oxidation rate as well as between PHB and the trichloroethylene transformation rate and capacity was found. Addition of β-hydroxybutyrate increased the naphthalene oxidation rates significantly. PHB content in cells could be manipulated by incubation at different methane-to-nitrogen ratios. A positive correlation between the naphthalene oxidation rate and the PHB content after these incubations could be seen. Both the PHB content and the naphthalene oxidation rates decreased with time in resting methanotrophic cells exposed to oxygen. However, this decrease in the naphthalene oxidation rate cannot be explained by the decrease in the PHB content alone. Probably a deactivation of the methane monooxygenase itself is also involved
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