sp. strain RWM1 grew with (-)-menthol, (-)-menthone and other acyclic monoterpenes as sole carbon sources. Growth on menthol was very slow, with a doubling time of more than 24 h, and was not rapid with (-)-menthone (doubling time 12 h). Concentrations of either carbon source greater than 0.025% inhibited growth. (-)-Menthone-grown cultures transiently accumulated 3,7-dimethyl-6-hydroxyoctanoate during growth, and (-)-menthol-grown cells oxidized (-)-menthol, (-)-menthone, 3,7-dimethyl-6-octanolide and 3,7-dimethyl-6-hydroxyoctanoate. Although neither a menthol oxidase nor a menthol dehydrogenase could be detected in extracts of (-)-menthol- or (-)-menthone-grown cells, an induced NADPH-linked monooxygenase with activity towards (-)-menthone was readily detected. With crude cell extracts, only 3,7-dimethyl-6-hydroxyoctanoate was detected as the reaction product. When the (-)-menthone monooxygenase was separated from an induced 3,7-dimethyl-6-octanolide hydrolase by chromatography on hydroxyapatite, the lactone 3,7-dimethyl-6-octanolide was shown to be the product of oxygenation.


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