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When bacteria are used to reduce industrial CO2 emissions via biological gas conversion, the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) causes problems because it is toxic to nearly all organisms. In this video, OLIVIER LEMAIRE explains how a subgroup of acetogenic bacteria directly uses CO to produce acetate. Lemaire analyzes Clostridium autoethanogenum and identifies two key proteins, (CO dehydrogenase and acetyl-CoA synthase) that operate in tandem to enable CO conversion and acetate production. In fact, the organism’s metabolism is shown to be organized around this key process: CO consumption by CO dehydrogenase. Enhanced understanding of these processes will allow us to enhance methods already applied for greenhouse gas reduction but also for green energy production.


Olivier Lemaire is a postdoctoral researcher in the Microbial Metabolism Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. He completed both his masters and his PhD at Aix-Marseille University. He has also conducted research at the CNRS, Marseille. Lemaire’s main research interests include ecology, evolution, life and its origins and exobiology. Drawn on in the research presented here, Lemaire also has specialist knowledge of prokaryotic species enrichment/cultivation and protein crystallization and analysis.


Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

At the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPIMM), we are investigating microorganisms in the sea and other waters. What role do they play, what are their characteristics and how great is their biodiversity? What is the contribution of microorganisms to the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron? What does this mean for our environment and our climate? These and many other questions will be answered by researchers from around the world, engineers, technicians and numerous others at the MPIMM. Their fields of expertise range from microbiology to microsensors, geochemistry to genome analysis and molecular ecology to modelling. The MPIMM was founded in 1992 and is part of the Max Planck Society (MPG). Since 2002, the MPIMM has been running the International Max Planck Research School of Marine Microbiology ( MarMic ), a program for highly qualified master students and graduates of our institute and the Bremen Research Alliance partner Bremen University, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research ( AWI ) and Jacobs University.
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Original publication

Gas Channel Rerouting in a Primordial Enzyme: Structural Insights of the Carbon-Monoxide Dehydrogenase/Acetyl-CoA Synthase Complex from the Acetogen Clostridium Autoethanogenum

Lemaire Olivier N. and Wagner Tristan
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Bioenergetics
Published in 2021

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