The ability of selected bacterial cultures to synthesize ethylene during growth in nutrient broth supplemented with methionine or 2-oxo-4-methylthiobutyric acid (KMBA) was examined. Although most cultures transformed KMBA into ethylene, only those of Escherichia coli SPAO and Chromobacterium violaceum were able to convert exogenously added methionine to ethylene. In chemically defined media, E. coli SPAO produced the highest amounts of ethylene from methionine and KMBA. This capability was affected by the nature of the carbon source and the type and amount of nitrogen source used for growth. When glutamate was used as sole source of carbon and nitrogen for growth, the activity of the ethylenogenic enzymes was reduced to 25% of that observed with cultures grown with glucose and NH4Cl. Neither methionine nor KMBA significantly affected the ethylenogenic capacity of E. coli SPAO. Menadione and paraquat, compounds that generate superoxide radicals, stimulated ethylene synthesis by harvested cells, but not by cell-free extracts of E. coli SPAO. In addition, cells of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which produced no ethylene in culture in the presence of exogenously added KMBA, yet possessed the necessary enzymes in an active form, were able to synthesize ethylene from KMBA when incubated with menadione or paraquat.
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