Thermotoga spp. are attractive candidates for producing biohydrogen, green chemicals, and thermostable enzymes. They may also serve as model systems for understanding life sustainability under hyperthermophilic conditions. A lack of genetic tools has hampered the investigation and application of these organisms. This study aims to develop a genetic transfer system for Thermotoga spp.
Methods for preparing and handling Thermotoga solid cultures under aerobic conditions were optimized. A plating efficiency of ~50% was achieved when the bacterial cells were embedded in 0.3% Gelrite. A Thermotoga-E. coli shuttle vector pDH10 was constructed using pRQ7, a cryptic mini-plasmid found in T. sp. RQ7. Plasmid pDH10 was introduced to T. maritima and T. sp. RQ7 by electroporation and liposome-mediated transformation. Transformants were isolated, and the transformed kanamycin resistance gene (kan) was detected from the plasmid DNA extracts of the recombinant strains by PCR and was confirmed by restriction digestions. The transformed DNA was stably maintained in both Thermotoga and E. coli even without the selective pressure.
Thermotoga are transformable by multiple means. Recombinant Thermotoga strains have been isolated for the first time. A heterologous kan gene is functionally expressed and stably maintained in Thermotoga.