• 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)).
    • 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.
    • Development and application of a real-time PCR approach for quantification of uncultured bacteria in the central Baltic Sea.

      Labrenz, Matthias; Brettar, Ingrid; Christen, Richard; Flavier, Sebastien; Bötel, Julia; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Environmental Microbiology, GBF-German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Mascheroder Weg 1, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2004-08)
      We have developed a highly sensitive approach to assess the abundance of uncultured bacteria in water samples from the central Baltic Sea by using a noncultured member of the "Epsilonproteobacteria" related to Thiomicrospira denitrificans as an example. Environmental seawater samples and samples enriched for the target taxon provided a unique opportunity to test the approach over a broad range of abundances. The approach is based on a combination of taxon- and domain-specific real-time PCR measurements determining the relative T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA gene and 16S rRNA abundances, as well as the determination of total cell counts and environmental RNA content. It allowed quantification of T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules or 16S rRNA genes as well as calculation of the number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell. Every real-time measurement and its specific primer system were calibrated using environmental nucleic acids obtained from the original habitat for external standardization. These standards, as well as the respective samples to be measured, were prepared from the same DNA or RNA extract. Enrichment samples could be analyzed directly, whereas environmental templates had to be preamplified with general bacterial primers before quantification. Preamplification increased the sensitivity of the assay by more than 4 orders of magnitude. Quantification of enrichments with or without a preamplification step yielded comparable results. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules ranged from 7.1 x 10(3) to 4.4 x 10(9) copies ml(-1) or 0.002 to 49.7% relative abundance. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA genes ranged from 9.0 x 10(1) to 2.2 x10(6) copies ml(-1) or 0.01 to 49.7% relative abundance. Detection limits of this real-time-PCR approach were 20 16S rRNA molecules or 0.2 16S rRNA gene ml(-1). The number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell was estimated to range from 20 to 200 in seawater and reached up to 2,000 in the enrichments. The results indicate that our real-time PCR approach can be used to determine cellular and relative abundances of uncultured marine bacterial taxa and to provide information about their levels of activity in their natural environment.
    • Dynamics of reductive genome evolution in mitochondria and obligate intracellular microbes.

      Khachane, Amit N; Timmis, Kenneth N; Martins dos Santos, Vítor A P; Department of Environmental Microbiology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-02)
      Reductive evolution in mitochondria and obligate intracellular microbes has led to a significant reduction in their genome size and guanine plus cytosine content (GC). We show that genome shrinkage during reductive evolution in prokaryotes follows an exponential decay pattern and provide a method to predict the extent of this decay on an evolutionary timescale. We validated predictions by comparison with estimated extents of genome reduction known to have occurred in mitochondria and Buchnera aphidicola, through comparative genomics and by drawing on available fossil evidences. The model shows how the mitochondrial ancestor would have quickly shed most of its genome, shortly after its incorporation into the protoeukaryotic cell and prior to codivergence subsequent to the split of eukaryotic lineages. It also predicts that the primary rickettsial parasitic event would have occurred between 180 and 425 million years ago (MYA), an event of relatively recent evolutionary origin considering the fact that Rickettsia and mitochondria evolved from a common alphaproteobacterial ancestor. This suggests that the symbiotic events of Rickettsia and mitochondria originated at different time points. Moreover, our model results predict that the ancestor of Wigglesworthia glossinidia brevipalpis, dated around the time of origin of its symbiotic association with the tsetse fly (50-100 MYA), was likely to have been an endosymbiont itself, thus supporting an earlier proposition that Wigglesworthia, which is currently a maternally inherited primary endosymbiont, evolved from a secondary endosymbiont.
    • 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.