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Analysis of storage lipid accumulation in Alcanivorax borkumensis: Evidence for alternative triacylglycerol biosynthesis routes in bacteria.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.
New lineage of filamentous, spore-forming, gram-positive bacteria from soil.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.