• Acidiplasma aeolicum gen. nov., sp. nov., a euryarchaeon of the family Ferroplasmaceae isolated from a hydrothermal pool, and transfer of Ferroplasma cupricumulans to Acidiplasma cupricumulans comb. nov.

      Golyshina, Olga V; Yakimov, Michail M; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Ferrer, Manuel; Nimtz, Manfred; Timmis, Kenneth N; Wray, Victor; Tindall, Brian J; Golyshin, Peter N; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. p.golyshin@bangor.ac.uk (2009-11)
      A novel acidophilic, cell-wall-less archaeon, strain V(T), was isolated from a hydrothermal pool on Vulcano Island, Italy. The morphology of cells was observed to vary from pleomorphic to coccoid. The temperature range for growth of strain V(T) was 15-65 degrees C with an optimum at 45 degrees C. The pH for growth ranged from pH 0 to 4 with an optimal at pH 1.4-1.6. Strain V(T) was able to grow aerobically and anaerobically, oxidizing ferrous iron and reducing ferric iron, respectively. The isolate grew chemo-organotrophically with yeast extract and yeast extract with glucose as the sources of energy and carbon. The molar G+C content in the DNA was 36 mol%. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis demonstrated that strain V(T) was a member of the family Ferroplasmaceae, order Thermoplasmatales, phylum Euryarchaeota, showing sequence identities of 100 % with Ferroplasma cupricumulans BH2(T), 95.4 % with Ferroplasma acidiphilum Y(T), 94 % with Picrophilus torridus DSM 9790(T) and 92 % with Picrophilus oshimae DSM 9789(T). 16S rRNA gene sequence-based phylogenetic analysis showed that strain V(T) formed a monophyletic cluster together with F. cupricumulans BH2(T) and all other thermophilic isolates with available 16S rRNA gene sequences, whereas F. acidiphilum Y(T) formed another cluster with mesophilic isolates within the family Ferroplasmaceae. DNA-DNA hybridization values between strain V(T) and F. cupricumulans BH2(T) were well below 70 %, indicating that the two strains belong to separate species. Principal membrane lipids of strain V(T) were dibiphytanyl-based tetraether lipids containing pentacyclic rings. The polar lipids were dominated by a single phosphoglycolipid derivative based on a galactosyl dibiphytanyl phosphoglycerol tetraether, together with smaller amounts of monoglycosyl and diglycosyl dibiphytanyl ether lipids and the corresponding phosphoglycerol derivatives. The major respiratory quinones present were naphthoquinone derivatives. Given the notable physiological and chemical differences as well as the distinct phylogenetic placement of the new isolate relative to the type species of the genus Ferroplasma, we propose strain V(T) as a member of a new genus and species, Acidiplasma aeolicum gen. nov., sp. nov. The type strain of Acidiplasma aeolicum is strain V(T) (=DSM 18409(T) =JCM 14615(T)). In addition, we propose to transfer Ferroplasma cupricumulans Hawkes et al. 2008 to the genus Acidiplasma as Acidiplasma cupricumulans comb. nov. (type strain BH2(T) =DSM 16551(T) =JCM 13668(T)).
    • Analysis of storage lipid accumulation in Alcanivorax borkumensis: Evidence for alternative triacylglycerol biosynthesis routes in bacteria.

      Kalscheuer, Rainer; Stöveken, Tim; Malkus, Ursula; Reichelt, Rudolf; Golyshin, Peter N; Sabirova, Julia S; Ferrer, Manuel; Timmis, Kenneth N; Steinbüchel, Alexander; Institut für Molekulare Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Corrensstrasse 3, D-48149 Münster, Germany. (2007-02)
      Marine hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria, like Alcanivorax borkumensis, play a globally important role in bioremediation of petroleum oil contamination in marine ecosystems. Accumulation of storage lipids, serving as endogenous carbon and energy sources during starvation periods, might be a potential adaptation mechanism for coping with nutrient limitation, which is a frequent stress factor challenging those bacteria in their natural marine habitats. Here we report on the analysis of storage lipid biosynthesis in A. borkumensis strain SK2. Triacylglycerols (TAGs) and wax esters (WEs), but not poly(hydroxyalkanoic acids), are the principal storage lipids present in this and other hydrocarbonoclastic bacterial species. Although so far assumed to be a characteristic restricted to gram-positive actinomycetes, substantial accumulation of TAGs corresponding to a fatty acid content of more than 23% of the cellular dry weight is the first characteristic of large-scale de novo TAG biosynthesis in a gram-negative bacterium. The acyltransferase AtfA1 (ABO_2742) exhibiting wax ester synthase/acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) activity plays a key role in both TAG and WE biosynthesis, whereas AtfA2 (ABO_1804) was dispensable for storage lipid formation. However, reduced but still substantial residual TAG levels in atfA1 and atfA2 knockout mutants compellingly indicate the existence of a yet unknown WS/DGAT-independent alternative TAG biosynthesis route. Storage lipids of A. borkumensis were enriched in saturated fatty acids and accumulated as insoluble intracytoplasmic inclusions exhibiting great structural variety. Storage lipid accumulation provided only a slight growth advantage during short-term starvation periods but was not required for maintaining viability and long-term persistence during extended starvation phases.
    • Characterization of marine isoprene-degrading communities.

      Alvarez, Laura Acuña; Exton, Daniel A; Timmis, Kenneth N; Suggett, David J; McGenity, Terry J; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. (2009-12)
      Isoprene is a volatile and climate-altering hydrocarbon with an atmospheric concentration similar to that of methane. It is well established that marine algae produce isoprene; however, until now there was no specific information about marine isoprene sinks. Here we demonstrate isoprene consumption in samples from temperate and tropical marine and coastal environments, and furthermore show that the most rapid degradation of isoprene coincides with the highest rates of isoprene production in estuarine sediments. Isoprene-degrading enrichment cultures, analysed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and by culturing, were generally dominated by Actinobacteria, but included other groups such as Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, previously not known to degrade isoprene. In contrast to specialist methane-oxidizing bacteria, cultivated isoprene degraders were nutritionally versatile, and nearly all of them were able to use n-alkanes as a source of carbon and energy. We therefore tested and showed that the ubiquitous marine hydrocarbon-degrader, Alcanivorax borkumensis, could also degrade isoprene. A mixture of the isolates consumed isoprene emitted from algal cultures, confirming that isoprene can be metabolized at low, environmentally relevant concentrations, and suggesting that, in the absence of spilled petroleum hydrocarbons, algal production of isoprene could maintain viable populations of hydrocarbon-degrading microbes. This discovery of a missing marine sink for isoprene is the first step in obtaining more robust predictions of its flux, and suggests that algal-derived isoprene provides an additional source of carbon for diverse microbes in the oceans.
    • Composition and dynamics of bacterial communities of a drinking water supply system as assessed by RNA- and DNA-based 16S rRNA gene fingerprinting.

      Eichler, Stefan; Christen, Richard; Höltje, Claudia; Westphal, Petra; Bötel, Julia; Brettar, Ingrid; Mehling, Arndt; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Environmental Microbiology, GBF-German Research Center for Biotechnology, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2006-03)
      Bacterial community dynamics of a whole drinking water supply system (DWSS) were studied from source to tap. Raw water for this DWSS is provided by two reservoirs with different water characteristics in the Harz mountains of Northern Germany. Samples were taken after different steps of treatment of raw water (i.e., flocculation, sand filtration, and chlorination) and at different points along the supply system to the tap. RNA and DNA were extracted from the sampled water. The 16S rRNA or its genes were partially amplified by reverse transcription-PCR or PCR and analyzed by single-strand conformation polymorphism community fingerprints. The bacterial community structures of the raw water samples from the two reservoirs were very different, but no major changes of these structures occurred after flocculation and sand filtration. Chlorination of the processed raw water strongly affected bacterial community structure, as reflected by the RNA-based fingerprints. This effect was less pronounced for the DNA-based fingerprints. After chlorination, the bacterial community remained rather constant from the storage containers to the tap. Furthermore, the community structure of the tap water did not change substantially for several months. Community composition was assessed by sequencing of abundant bands and phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained. The taxonomic compositions of the bacterial communities from both reservoirs were very different at the species level due to their different limnologies. On the other hand, major taxonomic groups, well known to occur in freshwater, such as Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes, were found in both reservoirs. Significant differences in the detection of the major groups were observed between DNA-based and RNA-based fingerprints irrespective of the reservoir. Chlorination of the drinking water seemed to promote growth of nitrifying bacteria. Detailed analysis of the community dynamics of the whole DWSS revealed a significant influence of both source waters on the overall composition of the drinking water microflora and demonstrated the relevance of the raw water microflora for the drinking water microflora provided to the end user.
    • Efficient production of soluble recombinant single chain Fv fragments by a Pseudomonas putida strain KT2440 cell factory.

      Dammeyer, Thorben; Steinwand, Miriam; Krüger, Sarah-C; Dübel, Stefan; Hust, Michael; Timmis, Kenneth N; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011)
      Recombinant antibody fragments have a wide range of applications in research, diagnostics and therapy. For many of these, small fragments like single chain fragment variables (scFv) function well and can be produced inexpensively in bacterial expression systems. Although Escherichia coli K-12 production systems are convenient, yields of different fragments, even those produced from codon-optimized expression systems, vary significantly. Where yields are inadequate, alternative production systems are needed. Pseudomonas putida strain KT2440 is a versatile biosafety strain known for good expression of heterologous genes, so we have explored its utility as a cell factory for production of scFvs.
    • New lineage of filamentous, spore-forming, gram-positive bacteria from soil.

      Cavaletti, Linda; Monciardini, Paolo; Bamonte, Ruggiero; Schumann, Peter; Rohde, Manfred; Sosio, Margherita; Donadio, Stefano; Vicuron Pharmaceuticals, 21040 Gerenzano, Italy. (2006-06)
      A novel bacterial strain that was isolated from an Italian soil and was designated SOSP1-21T forms branched mycelia in solid and liquid media and has a filamentous morphology similar to that of some genera belonging to the Actinobacteria. Electron microscopy showed that this organism has a grape-like appearance, resulting from interlacing of spores originating from sporophoric hyphae. Ten strains that are morphologically related to SOSP1-21T were recovered from soil. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA gene segments confirmed the relatedness of these strains to SOSP1-21T and indicated that the newly isolated strains form separate clades in a deeply branching lineage. The closest matches for the 16S rRNA sequences of all the strains (around 79% identity) were matches with representatives of the Chloroflexi, although the affiliation with this division was not supported by high bootstrap values. The strains are mesophilic aerobic heterotrophs and are also capable of growing under microaerophilic conditions. They all stain gram positive. Strain SOSP1-21T contains ornithine, alanine, glutamic acid, serine, and glycine as the peptidoglycan amino acids. In addition, an unusual level of C16:1 2OH (30%) was found in the cellular fatty acids. The G+C content of SOSP1-21T genomic DNA is 53.9%, and MK-9(H2) was the only menaquinone detected. All these data suggest that SOSP1-21T and the related strains may constitute a new division of filamentous, spore-forming, gram-positive bacteria. We propose the name Ktedobacter racemifer gen. nov., sp. nov. for strain SOSP1-21T.
    • The 'pH optimum anomaly' of intracellular enzymes of Ferroplasma acidiphilum.

      Golyshina, Olga V; Golyshin, Peter N; Timmis, Kenneth N; Ferrer, Manuel; Division of Microbiology, GBF--German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany. (2006-03)
      A wide range of microorganisms, the so-called acidophiles, inhabit acidic environments and grow optimally at pH values between 0 and 3. The intracellular pH of these organisms is, however, close to neutrality or slightly acidic. It is to be expected that enzymatic activities dedicated to extracellular functions would be adapted to the prevailing low pH of the environment (0-3), whereas intracellular enzymes would be optimally active at the near-neutral pH of the cytoplasm (4.6-7.0). The genes of several intracellular or cell-bound enzymes, a carboxylesterase and three alpha-glucosidases, from Ferroplasma acidiphilum, a cell wall-lacking acidophilic archaeon with a growth optimum at pH 1.7, were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, and their products purified and characterized. The Ferroplasmaalpha-glucosidases exhibited no sequence similarity to known glycosyl hydrolases. All enzymes functioned and were stable in vitro in the pH range 1.7-4.0, and had pH optima much lower than the mean intracellular pH of 5.6. This 'pH optimum anomaly' suggests the existence of yet-undetected cellular compartmentalization providing cytoplasmic pH patchiness and low pH environments for the enzymes we have analysed.
    • Traditional cattle manure application determines abundance, diversity and activity of methanogenic Archaea in arable European soil.

      Gattinger, Andreas; Höfle, Manfred G; Schloter, Michael; Embacher, Arndt; Böhme, Frank; Munch, Jean Charles; Labrenz, Matthias; Institute of Soil Ecology, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany. (2007-03)
      Based on lipid analyses, 16S rRNA/rRNA gene single-strand conformation polymorphism fingerprints and methane flux measurements, influences of the fertilization regime on abundance and diversity of archaeal communities were investigated in soil samples from the long-term (103 years) field trial in Bad Lauchstädt, Germany. The investigated plots followed a gradient of increasing fertilization beginning at no fertilization and ending at the 'cattle manure' itself. The archaeal phospholipid etherlipid (PLEL) concentration was used as an indicator for archaeal biomass and increased with the gradient of increasing fertilization, whereby the concentrations determined for organically fertilized soils were well above previously reported values. Methane emission, although at a low level, were occasionally only observed in organically fertilized soils, whereas the other treatments showed significant methane uptake. Euryarchaeotal organisms were abundant in all investigated samples but 16S rRNA analysis also demonstrated the presence of Crenarchaeota in fertilized soils. Lowest molecular archaeal diversity was found in highest fertilized treatments. Archaea phylogenetically most closely related to cultured methanogens were abundant in these fertilized soils, whereas Archaea with low relatedness to cultured microorganisms dominated in non-fertilized soils. Relatives of Methanoculleus spp. were found almost exclusively in organically fertilized soils or cattle manure. Methanosarcina-related microorganisms were detected in all soils as well as in the cattle manure, but soils with highest organic application rate were specifically dominated by a close phylogenetic relative of Methanosarcina thermophila. Our findings suggest that regular application of cattle manure increased archaeal biomass, but reduced archaeal diversity and selected for methanogenic Methanoculleus and Methanosarcina strains, leading to the circumstance that high organic fertilized soils did not function as a methane sink at the investigated site anymore.
    • Transcriptional profiling of the marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis during growth on n-alkanes.

      Sabirova, Julia S; Becker, Anke; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Nicaud, Jean-Marc; Timmis, Kenneth N; Golyshin, Peter N; Department of Bioscience and Bioengineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. julia.sabirova@ugent.be (2011-06)
      The marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2 has attracted significant interest due to its hydrocarbonoclastic lifestyle, its alkane-centered metabolism, and for playing an important ecological role in cleaning up marine oil spills. In this study, we used microarray technology to characterize the transcriptional responses of A. borkumensis to n-hexadecane exposure as opposed to pyruvate, which led to the identification of a total of 220 differentially expressed genes, with 109 genes being upregulated and 111 genes being downregulated. Among the genes upregulated on alkanes are systems predicted to be involved in the terminal oxidation of alkanes, biofilm formation, signal transduction, and regulation.