Methanogens and sulphate reducing bacteria compete for H2 in the human colon, and, as a result, faeces usually contain high concentrations of just one of these two organisms. There is controversy over which of these organisms wins the competition for H2, although theoretical data suggest that sulphate reducing bacteria should predominate. To elucidate this question experiments were undertaken in which sulphate enriched homogenates of human sulphate reducing faeces and methane producing faeces were incubated separately or mixed together. Co-incubation of sulphate reducing faeces with methanogenic faeces resulted in a sixfold reduction in the activity of the sulphate reducing bacteria (measured as sulphide production), whereas methane production was not inhibited by co-incubation with sulphate reducing bacteria. Methanogenic faeces also consumed H2 more rapidly and reduced the H2 tension of the homogenate to a lower value than did sulphate reducing faecal samples. In these experiments, methanogens seem to outcompete sulphate reducing bacteria for H2.
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