Production of methane by Methanosarcina barkeri from H2-CO2 was studied in fed-batch culture under phosphate-limiting conditions. A transition in the kinetics of methanogenesis from an exponentially increasing rate to a constant rate was due to depletion of phosphate from the medium. The period of exponentially increasing rate of methanogenesis was extended by increasing the initial concentration of phosphate in the medium. Addition of phosphate during the constant period changed the kinetics to an exponentially increasing rate of methanogenesis, indicating the reversibility of phosphate depletion. The relation between methanogenesis and growth of M. barkeri was investigated by measuring the incorporation of phosphorus, supplied as KH232PO4, in the medium. At a low (1 μM) initial concentration of phosphate in the medium and during the constant period of methanogenesis, there was no net cell growth. At a higher (10 μM) initial concentration of phosphate, cell growth proceeded linearly with time after phosphate had been removed from the medium by uptake into cells
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