[Microbiology] Re: Do any bad-smelling compounds result from anoxic bacterial decomposition of ethanol?

biovirus04 at gmail.com biovirus04 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 27 03:00:44 EST 2006

Radium wrote:

> What odorous chemicals do anaerobic bacteria [excluding the
> acetic-acid-producing bacteria] produce when they feed on ethanol in an
> oxygen-free environment? What do these compounds' odors resemble?

You aren't going to find many bacteria that break down EtOH, let alone
in an oxygen-free environment.  EtOH, in high enough concentrations, is
extremely toxic.  That's why I clean off my lab bench with 70% EtOH.

However, there is an organism called Clostridium kluyveri that breaks
down EtOH anaerobically.  It's the only one I know of that can break
down EtOH, but I'm no expert on metabolism.  The reaction that it
carries out is:

     EtOH + Acetate + CO2  -->  Caproate + Butyrate + H2

Caproate smells like goats.  Butyrate smells like vomit.

Since you have an interest in metabolism, you should look into reading
Brock Biology of Microorganisms.  They're now up to the 11th ed.  The
authors (whom I know personally) do a great job of covering metabolic

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