Strain Hiromi 1, a sulfur-oxidizing gammaproteobacterium was isolated from a hydrothermal vent chimney in the Okinawa Trough and represents a novel genus that may include a phylogenetic group found as endosymbionts of deep-sea gastropods. The SSU rRNA gene sequence similarity between strain Hiromi 1 and the gastropod endosymbionts was approximately 97%. The strain was shown to grow both chemolithoautotrophically and chemolithoheterotrophically with an energy metabolism of sulfur oxidation and O2 or nitrate reduction. Under chemolithoheterotrophic growth conditions, the strain utilized organic acids and proteinaceous compounds as the carbon and/or nitrogen sources but not the energy source. Various sugars did not support growth as a sole carbon source. The observation of chemolithoheterotrophy in this strain is in line with metagenomic analyses of endosymbionts suggesting the occurrence of chemolithoheterotrophy in gammaproteobacterial symbionts. Chemolithoheterotrophy and the presence of homologous genes for virulence- and quorum sensing-related functions suggest that the sulfur-oxidizing chomolithotrophic microbes seek animal bodies and microbial biofilm formation to obtain supplemental organic carbons in hydrothermal ecosystems.
The domain Archaea has historically been divided into two phyla, the Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. Although regarded as members of the Crenarchaeota based on small subunit rRNA phylogeny, environmental genomics and efforts for cultivation have recently revealed two novel phyla/divisions in the Archaea; the Thaumarchaeota and Korarchaeota. Here, we show the genome sequence of Candidatus Caldiarchaeum subterraneum that represents an uncultivated crenarchaeotic group. A composite genome was reconstructed from a metagenomic library previously prepared from a microbial mat at a geothermal water stream of a sub-surface gold mine. The genome was found to be clearly distinct from those of the known phyla/divisions, Crenarchaeota (hyperthermophiles), Euryarchaeota, Thaumarchaeota and Korarchaeota. The unique traits suggest that this crenarchaeotic group can be considered as a novel archaeal phylum/division. Moreover, C. subterraneum harbors an ubiquitin-like protein modifier system consisting of Ub, E1, E2 and small Zn RING finger family protein with structural motifs specific to eukaryotic system proteins, a system clearly distinct from the prokaryote-type system recently identified in Haloferax and Mycobacterium. The presence of such a eukaryote-type system is unprecedented in prokaryotes, and indicates that a prototype of the eukaryotic protein modifier system is present in the Archaea.
The subseafloor microbial communities in the turbidite depositional basins Brazos-Trinity Basin IV (BT Basin) and the Mars-Ursa Basin (Ursa Basin) on the Gulf of Mexico continental slope (IODP holes U1319A, U1320A, U1322B and U1324B) were investigated by PCR-dependent molecular analyses targeted to the small subunit (SSU) rRNA genes, dsrA and mcrA, and hydrogenase activity measurements. Biomass at both basins was very low, with the maximum cell or the SSU rRNA gene copy number <1 x 10(7) cells mL(-1) or copies g(-1) sediments, respectively. Hydrogenase activity correlated with biomass estimated by SSU rRNA gene copy number when all data sets were combined. We detected differences in the SSU rRNA gene community structures and SSU rRNA gene copy numbers between the basin-fill and basement sediments in the BT Basin. Examination of microbial communities and hydrogenase activity in the context of geochemical and geophysical parameters and sediment depositional environments revealed that differences in microbial community composition between the basin-fill and basement sediments in the BT Basin were associated with sedimentation regimes tied to the sea-level change. This may also explain the distributions of relatively similar archaeal communities in the Ursa Basin sediments and basement sediments in the BT Basin.
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