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Characterization of the first cultured representative of Verrucomicrobia subdivision 5 indicates the proposal of a novel phylum.The recently isolated strain L21-Fru-ABTrepresents moderately halophilic, obligately anaerobic and saccharolytic bacteria that thrive in the suboxic transition zones of hypersaline microbial mats. Phylogenetic analyses based on 16S rRNA genes, RpoB proteins and gene content indicated that strain L21-Fru-ABTrepresents a novel species and genus affiliated with a distinct phylum-level lineage originally designated Verrucomicrobia subdivision 5. A survey of environmental 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that members of this newly recognized phylum are wide-spread and ecologically important in various anoxic environments ranging from hypersaline sediments to wastewater and the intestine of animals. Characteristic phenotypic traits of the novel strain included the formation of extracellular polymeric substances, a Gram-negative cell wall containing peptidoglycan and the absence of odd-numbered cellular fatty acids. Unusual metabolic features deduced from analysis of the genome sequence were the production of sucrose as osmoprotectant, an atypical glycolytic pathway lacking pyruvate kinase and the synthesis of isoprenoids via mevalonate. On the basis of the analyses of phenotypic, genomic and environmental data, it is proposed that strain L21-Fru-ABTand related bacteria are specifically adapted to the utilization of sulfated glycopolymers produced in microbial mats or biofilms.