Stickland fermentation
Stickland fermentation or The Stickland Reaction is the name for a chemical reaction that involves the coupled oxidation and reduction
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 of amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s to organic acids. The electron donor amino acid is oxidised to a volatile carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group...

 one carbon atom shorter than the original amino acid. For example, alanine
Alanine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula CH3CHCOOH. The L-isomer is one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the genetic code. Its codons are GCU, GCC, GCA, and GCG. It is classified as a nonpolar amino acid...

 with a three carbon chain is converted to acetate
An acetate is a derivative of acetic acid. This term includes salts and esters, as well as the anion found in solution. Most of the approximately 5 billion kilograms of acetic acid produced annually in industry are used in the production of acetates, which usually take the form of polymers. In...

 with two carbons. The electron acceptor amino acid is reduced to a volatile carboxylic acid the same length as the original amino acid. For example, glycine
Glycine is an organic compound with the formula NH2CH2COOH. Having a hydrogen substituent as its 'side chain', glycine is the smallest of the 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins. Its codons are GGU, GGC, GGA, GGG cf. the genetic code.Glycine is a colourless, sweet-tasting crystalline solid...

 with two carbons is converted to acetate. In this way, amino acid fermenting microbes can avoid using hydrogen ions as electron acceptors to produce hydrogen gas. Amino acids can be Stickland acceptors, Stickland donors, or act as both donor and acceptor. Only histidine
Histidine Histidine, an essential amino acid, has a positively charged imidazole functional group. It is one of the 22 proteinogenic amino acids. Its codons are CAU and CAC. Histidine was first isolated by German physician Albrecht Kossel in 1896. Histidine is an essential amino acid in humans...

cannot be fermented by Stickland reactions, and is oxidised. With a typical amino acid mix, there is a 10% shortfall in Stickland acceptors, which results in hydrogen production. Under very low hydrogen partial pressures, increased uncoupled anaerobic oxidation has also been observed.
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