We found that Methylocystis (belonging to Alphaproteobacteria) comprised 73% of the community, followed by Sphingopyxis, a common soil heterotrophic bacterium [25%] when examining the community using ribosomal tag pyrosequencing (unpublished data). Therefore, we hypothesized that Sphingopyxis interacts positively with Methylocystis. The main objectives of this study were to determine if Sphingopyxis enhances the methane oxidation of Methylocystis, if Sphingopyxis stimulates the population growth and/or activity (methane oxidation enzymes)
of Methylocystis, and if this biological stimulation is a density-dependent process. To address these questions, Methylocystis and Sphingopyxis were mixed at different mixing
ratios. Methane oxidation rate was calculated at each ratio. Population Cell Cycle inhibitor density and rRNA expression were quantified using FISH and real-time PCR. mRNA expression levels of genes involved in the methane oxidation pathway were also quantified. Methylocystis sp. M6 and Sphingopyxis sp. NM1 were used in this study. The two bacteria originated from soil, but were not isolated from the same consortium. The obligate methanotroph M6  was maintained in nitrate mineral salts (NMS) medium with 50,000 ppm methane as previously described by . NMS medium contained MgSO4∙7H2O 1 g L−1, CaCl2∙2H2O 0.134 g L−1, KNO3 1 g L−1, KH2PO4 0.272 g L−1, selleck chemical Na2HPO4∙12H2O 0.717 g L−1 . CuSO4 was added to a final concentration Astemizole of 30 μM for supporting the pMMO activity and growth of M6  and . NM1 was isolated from the Methylocystis- and Sphingopyxis-dominant methanotrophic consortium. The consortium was serially diluted using sterile 0.9% NaCl solution and spread on Difco™ R2A agar (BD Diagnostics,
Sparks, MD, USA) plates. A pure colony of NM1 was obtained by subsequent transfers to new R2A agar plates more than three times, and maintained in R2A agar medium. To identify NM1, the 16S rRNA gene was amplified using the primer pair 341f (5′-CCTACGGGAGGCAGCAG-3′) and 907r (5′-CCCCGTCAATTCATTTGAGTTT-3′). The partial sequence of the 16S rRNA gene was compared with known DNA sequences using Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) analysis (http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). NM1 was identified as a Sphingopyxis sp. The sequence was deposited into the GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.nov) database under the accession number AB935326. When carbon source patterns were analyzed using BIOLOG™ Ecoplates (Biolog, Hayward, USA), NM1 was found to utilize D-galacturonic acid, D-mannitol, D-xylose, and pyruvic acid methyl ester. M6 and NM1 have been deposited in the Korean Collection for Type Cultures (http://kctc.kribb.re.kr) (World Data Center for Microorganisms, WDCM597) under the collection numbers KCTC 11519 and KCTC 32429, respectively. Bacterial cells were prefixed for 2 h in 0.1 M phosphate-buffered saline (PBS; pH 7.