Formation and breakdown of glycine betaine and trimethylamine in hypersaline environments

Aharon Oren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Glycine betaine is accumulated as a compatible solute in many photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic bacteria - the last being unable to synthesize the compound - and thus large pools of betaine can be expected to be present in hypersaline environments. A variety of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms degrade betaine to among other products trimethylamine and methylamine, in a number of different pathways. Curiously, very few of these betaine breakdown processes have yet been identified in hypersaline environments. Trimethylamine can also be formed by bacterial reduction of trimethylamine N-oxide (also by extremely halophilic archaeobacteria). Degradation of trimethylamine in hypersaline environments by halophilic methanogenic bacteria is relatively well documented, and leads to the formation of methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalAntonie van Leeuwenhoek
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1990


  • cyanobacteria
  • glycine betaine
  • halobacteria
  • methanogens
  • trimethylamine
  • trimethylamine N-oxide


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