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1.  Detection of autotrophic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in a geothermal environment using stable isotope probing 
Genomic analysis of the methanotrophic verrucomicrobium “Methylacidiphilum infernorum” strain V4 has shown that most pathways conferring its methanotrophic lifestyle are similar to those found in proteobacterial methanotrophs. However, due to the large sequence divergence of its methane monooxygenase-encoding genes (pmo), “universal” pmoA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers do not target these bacteria. Unlike proteobacterial methanotrophs, “Methylacidiphilum” fixes carbon autotrophically, and uses methane only for energy generation. As a result, techniques used to detect methanotrophs in the environment such as 13CH4-stable isotope probing (SIP) and pmoA-targeted PCR do not detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs, and they may have been overlooked in previous environmental studies. We developed a modified SIP technique to identify active methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia in the environment by labeling with 13CO2 and 13CH4, individually and in combination. Testing the protocol in “M. infernorum” strain V4 resulted in assimilation of 13CO2 but not 13CH4, verifying its autotrophic lifestyle. To specifically detect methanotrophs (as opposed to other autotrophs) via 13CO2-SIP, a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay specific for verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes was developed and used in combination with SIP. Incubation of an acidic, high-temperature geothermal soil with 13CH4 + 12CO2 caused little shift in the density distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes relative to controls. However, labeling with 13CO2 in combination with 12CH4 or 13CH4 induced a strong shift in the distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes towards the heavy DNA fractions. The modified SIP technique demonstrated that the primary methanotrophs active in the soil were autotrophs and belonged to the Verrucomicrobia. This is the first demonstration of autotrophic, non-proteobacterial methanotrophy in situ, and provides a tool to detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in other ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3421453  PMID: 22912630
Verrucomicrobia; methane; methanotroph; stable isotope probing; “Methylacidiphilum”; acidophile
2.  Metabolic Regulation of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum Fumariolicum” SolV Cells Grown Under Different Nitrogen and Oxygen Limitations 
Aerobic methanotrophic bacteria can use methane as their sole energy source. The discovery of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum” strain SolV and other verrucomicrobial methanotrophs has revealed that the ability of bacteria to oxidize CH4 is much more diverse than has previously been assumed in terms of ecology, phylogeny, and physiology. A remarkable characteristic of the methane-oxidizing Verrucomicrobia is their extremely acidophilic phenotype, growing even below pH 1. In this study we used RNA-Seq to analyze the metabolic regulation of “Ca. M. fumariolicum” SolV cells growing at μmax in batch culture or under nitrogen fixing or oxygen limited conditions in chemostats, all at pH 2. The analysis showed that two of the three pmoCAB operons each encoding particulate methane monoxygenases were differentially expressed, probably regulated by the available oxygen. The hydrogen produced during N2 fixation is apparently recycled as demonstrated by the upregulation of the genes encoding a Ni/Fe-dependent hydrogenase. These hydrogenase genes were also upregulated under low oxygen conditions. Handling of nitrosative stress was shown by the expression of the nitric oxide reductase encoding genes norB and norC under all conditions tested, the upregulation of nitrite reductase nirK under oxygen limitation and of hydroxylamine oxidoreductase hao in the presence of ammonium. Unraveling the gene regulation of carbon and nitrogen metabolism helps to understand the underlying physiological adaptations of strain SolV in view of the harsh conditions of its natural ecosystem.
PMCID: PMC3404531  PMID: 22848206
Methylacidiphilum; methane; RNA-Seq; Verrucomicrobia; metabolic regulation; nitrogen; pMMO
3.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Volcano-Inhabiting Thermoacidophilic Methanotroph Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum Strain SolV 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(14):3729-3730.
The draft genome of Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, a thermoacidophilic methanotroph of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, is presented. Annotation revealed pathways for one-carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen catabolism and respiration together with central metabolic pathways. The genome encodes three orthologues of particulate methane monooxygenases. Sequencing of this genome will help in the understanding of methane cycling in volcanic environments.
PMCID: PMC3393509  PMID: 22740660
4.  Laboratory Cultivation of Widespread and Previously Uncultured Soil Bacteria 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(12):7210-7215.
Most soil bacteria belong to family-level phylogenetic groups with few or no known cultivated representatives. We cultured a collection of 350 isolates from soil by using simple solid media in petri dishes. These isolates were assigned to 60 family-level groupings in nine bacterial phyla on the basis of a comparative analysis of their 16S rRNA genes. Ninety-three (27%) of the isolates belonged to 20 as-yet-unnamed family-level groupings, many from poorly studied bacterial classes and phyla. They included members of subdivisions 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the phylum Acidobacteria, subdivision 3 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, subdivision 1 of the phylum Gemmatimonadetes, and subclasses Acidimicrobidae and Rubrobacteridae of the phylum Actinobacteria. In addition, members of 10 new family-level groupings of subclass Actinobacteridae of the phylum Actinobacteria and classes Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria of the phylum Proteobacteria were obtained. The high degree of phylogenetic novelty and the number of isolates affiliated with so-called unculturable groups show that simple cultivation methods can still be developed further to obtain laboratory cultures of many phylogenetically novel soil bacteria.
PMCID: PMC309996  PMID: 14660368
5.  Autotrophic Methanotrophy in Verrucomicrobia: Methylacidiphilum fumariolicumSolV Uses the Calvin-Benson-Bassham Cycle for Carbon Dioxide Fixation ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(17):4438-4446.
Genome data of the extreme acidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph Methylacidiphilum fumariolicumstrain SolV indicated the ability of autotrophic growth. This was further validated by transcriptome analysis, which showed that all genes required for a functional Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle were transcribed. Experiments with 13CH4or 13CO2in batch and chemostat cultures demonstrated that CO2is the sole carbon source for growth of strain SolV. In the presence of CH4, CO2concentrations in the headspace below 1% (vol/vol) were growth limiting, and no growth was observed when CO2concentrations were below 0.3% (vol/vol). The activity of the key enzyme of the CBB cycle, ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), measured with a 13C stable-isotope method was about 70 nmol CO2fixed · min−1· mg of protein−1. An immune reaction with antibody against the large subunit of RuBisCO on Western blots was found only in the supernatant fractions of cell extracts. The apparent native mass of the RuBisCO complex in strain SolV was about 482 kDa, probably consisting of 8 large (53-kDa) and 8 small (16-kDa) subunits. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the corresponding RuBisCO gene, we postulate that RuBisCO of the verrucomicrobial methanotrophs represents a new type of form I RuBisCO.
PMCID: PMC3165502  PMID: 21725016
6.  Phylum Verrucomicrobia representatives share a compartmentalized cell plan with members of bacterial phylum Planctomycetes 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:5.
The phylum Verrucomicrobia is a divergent phylum within domain Bacteria including members of the microbial communities of soil and fresh and marine waters; recently extremely acidophilic members from hot springs have been found to oxidize methane. At least one genus, Prosthecobacter, includes species with genes homologous to those encoding eukaryotic tubulins. A significant superphylum relationship of Verrucomicrobia with members of phylum Planctomycetes possessing a unique compartmentalized cell plan, and members of the phylum Chlamydiae including human pathogens with a complex intracellular life cycle, has been proposed. Based on the postulated superphylum relationship, we hypothesized that members of the two separate phyla Planctomycetes and Verrucomicrobia might share a similar ultrastructure plan differing from classical prokaryote organization.
The ultrastructure of cells of four members of phylum Verrucomicrobia – Verrucomicrobium spinosum, Prosthecobacter dejongeii, Chthoniobacter flavus, and strain Ellin514 – was examined using electron microscopy incorporating high-pressure freezing and cryosubstitution. These four members of phylum Verrucomicrobia, representing 3 class-level subdivisions within the phylum, were found to possess a compartmentalized cell plan analogous to that found in phylum Planctomycetes. Like all planctomycetes investigated, they possess a major pirellulosome compartment containing a condensed nucleoid and ribosomes surrounded by an intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM), as well as a ribosome-free paryphoplasm compartment between the ICM and cytoplasmic membrane.
A unique compartmentalized cell plan so far found among Domain Bacteria only within phylum Planctomycetes, and challenging our concept of prokaryote cell plans, has now been found in a second phylum of the Domain Bacteria, in members of phylum Verrucomicrobia. The planctomycete cell plan thus occurs in at least two distinct phyla of the Bacteria, phyla which have been suggested from other evidence to be related phylogenetically in the proposed PVC (Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae) superphylum. This planctomycete cell plan is present in at least 3 of 6 subdivisions of Verrucomicrobia, suggesting that the common ancestor of the verrucomicrobial phylum was also compartmentalized and possessed such a plan. The presence of this compartmentalized cell plan in both phylum Planctomycetes and phylum Verrucomicrobia suggest that the last common ancestor of these phyla was also compartmentalized.
PMCID: PMC2647929  PMID: 19133117
7.  Genomic and Physiological Characterization of the Verrucomicrobia Isolate Diplosphaera colitermitum gen. nov., sp. nov., Reveals Microaerophily and Nitrogen Fixation Genes 
Previously we reported the cultivation of novel verrucomicrobia, including strain TAV2 (93% 16S rRNA gene identity to its nearest cultivated representative, Opitutus terreae PB90-1) from the gut of the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. To gain better insight into the Verrucomicrobia as a whole and understand the role of verrucomicrobia within the termite gut ecosystem, we analyzed a draft genome and undertook a physiological characterization of TAV2. Strain TAV2 is an autochthonous member of the R. flavipes gut microbiota and groups phylogenetically among diverse Verrucomicrobia from R. flavipes and other termites that are represented by 16S rRNA gene sequences alone. TAV2 is a microaerophile, possessing a high-affinity cbb3-type terminal oxidase-encoding gene and exhibiting an optimum growth rate between 2 and 8% (vol/vol) oxygen. It has the genetic potential to degrade cellulose, an important function within termite guts, but its in vitro substrate utilization spectrum was limited to starch and a few mono- and disaccharides. Growth occurred on nitrogen-free medium, and genomic screening revealed genes for dinitrogenases, heretofore detected in only a few members of the Verrucomicrobia. This represents the first (i) characterization of a verrucomicrobial species from the termite gut, (ii) report of nif and anf genes in a nonacidophilic verrucomicrobial species, and (iii) description of a microaerophilic genotype and phenotype in this phylum of bacteria. The genetic and physiological distinctiveness of TAV2 supports its recognition as the type strain of a new genus and species, for which the name Diplosphaera colitermitum gen. nov., sp. nov., is proposed.
PMCID: PMC3294482  PMID: 22194293
8.  Genomic and Experimental Evidence Suggests that Verrucomicrobium spinosum Interacts with Eukaryotes 
Our knowledge of pathogens and symbionts is heavily biased toward phyla containing species that are straightforward to isolate in pure culture. Novel bacterial phyla are often represented by a handful of strains, and the number of species interacting with eukaryotes is likely underestimated. Identification of predicted pathogenesis and symbiosis determinants such as the Type III Secretion System (T3SS) in the genomes of “free-living” bacteria suggests that these microbes participate in uncharacterized interactions with eukaryotes. Our study aimed to test this hypothesis on Verrucomicrobium spinosum (phylum Verrucomicrobia) and to begin characterization of its predicted T3SS. We showed the putative T3SS structural genes to be transcriptionally active, and that expression of predicted effector proteins was toxic to yeast in an established functional screen. Our results suggest that the predicted T3SS genes of V. spinosum could encode a functional T3SS, although further work is needed to determine whether V. spinosum produces a T3SS injectisome that delivers the predicted effectors. In the absence of a known eukaryotic host, we made use of invertebrate infection models. The injection or feeding of V. spinosum to Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans, respectively, was shown to result in increased mortality rates relative to controls, a phenomenon exaggerated in C. elegans mutants hypersensitive to pathogen infection. This finding, although not conclusively demonstrating pathogenesis, suggests that V. spinosum is capable of pathogenic activity toward an invertebrate host. Symbiotic interactions with a natural host provide an alternative explanation for the results seen in the invertebrate models. Further work is needed to determine whether V. spinosum can establish and maintain interactions with eukaryotic species found in its natural habitat, and whether the predicted T3SS is directly involved in pathogenic or symbiotic activity.
PMCID: PMC3196152  PMID: 22022322
Verrucomicrobia; genome; eukaryotic host
9.  Chthoniobacter flavus gen. nov., sp. nov., the First Pure-Culture Representative of Subdivision Two, Spartobacteria classis nov., of the Phylum Verrucomicrobia 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2004;70(10):5875-5881.
The phylum Verrucomicrobia is increasingly recognized as an environmentally significant group of bacteria, particularly in soil habitats. At least six subdivisions of the Verrucomicrobia are resolved by comparative analysis of 16S rRNA genes, mostly obtained directly from environmental samples. To date, only two of these subdivisions (1 and 4) have characterized pure-culture representatives. We have isolated and characterized the first known pure-culture representative of subdivision 2. Strain Ellin428 is an aerobic heterotrophic bacterium that is able to grow with many of the saccharide components of plant biomass but does not grow with amino acids or organic acids other than pyruvate. Cells are yellow, rod-shaped, nonmotile, and gram-stain negative, and they contain peptidoglycan with direct cross-linkages of the A1γ meso-Dpm type. The isolate grows well at 25°C on a variety of standard biological media, including some used in the routine cultivation of bacteria from soil. The pH range for growth is 4.0 to 7.0. Low levels of menaquinones MK-10 and MK-11 were detected. The major cellular fatty acids are C14:0, a-C15:0, C16:1ω7c, and/or 2OH i-C15:0, and C16:0. The G+C content of the genomic DNA is 61 mol%. We propose a new genus and species, Chthoniobacter flavus gen. nov., sp. nov., with isolate Ellin428 as the type strain, and a new class for the subdivision to which it belongs, Spartobacteria classis nov. Environmental sequences indicate that the class Spartobacteria is largely represented by globally distributed, abundant, and active soil bacteria.
PMCID: PMC522106  PMID: 15466527
10.  Complete Mitochondrial and Plastid Genomes of the Green Microalga Trebouxiophyceae sp. Strain MX-AZ01 Isolated from a Highly Acidic Geothermal Lake 
Eukaryotic Cell  2012;11(11):1417-1418.
We report the complete organelle genome sequences of Trebouxiophyceae sp. strain MX-AZ01, an acidophilic green microalga isolated from a geothermal field in Mexico. This eukaryote has the remarkable ability to thrive in a particular shallow lake with emerging hot springs at the bottom, extremely low pH, and toxic heavy metal concentrations. Trebouxiophyceae sp. MX-AZ01 represents one of few described photosynthetic eukaryotes living in such a hostile environment. The organelle genomes of Trebouxiophyceae sp. MX-AZ01 are remarkable. The plastid genome sequence currently presents the highest G+C content for a trebouxiophyte. The mitochondrial genome sequence is the largest reported to date for the Trebouxiophyceae class of green algae. The analysis of the genome sequences presented here provides insight into the evolution of organelle genomes of trebouxiophytes and green algae.
PMCID: PMC3486031  PMID: 23104370
11.  Assessment of Bias Associated with Incomplete Extraction of Microbial DNA from Soil▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(16):5428-5433.
DNA extraction bias is a frequently cited but poorly understood limitation of molecular characterizations of environmental microbial communities. To assess the bias of a commonly used soil DNA extraction kit, we varied the cell lysis protocol and conducted multiple extractions on subsamples of clay, sand, and organic soils. DNA, as well as bacterial and fungal ribosomal gene copies as measured by quantitative PCR, continued to be isolated in successive extractions. When terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism was used, a significant shift in community composition due to extraction bias was detected for bacteria but not for fungi. Pyrosequencing indicated that the relative abundances of sequences from rarely cultivated groups such as Acidobacteria, Gemmatimonades, and Verrucomicrobia were higher in the first extraction than in the sixth but that the reverse was true for Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. This suggests that the well-known phylum-level bacterial cultivation bias may be partially exaggerated by DNA extraction bias. We conclude that bias can be adequately reduced in many situations by pooling three successive extractions, and additional measures should be considered when divergent soil types are compared or when comprehensive community analysis is necessary.
PMCID: PMC2725469  PMID: 19561189
12.  Global distribution and diversity of marine Verrucomicrobia 
The ISME Journal  2012;6(8):1499-1505.
Verrucomicrobia is a bacterial phylum that is commonly detected in soil, but little is known about the distribution and diversity of this phylum in the marine environment. To address this, we analyzed the marine microbial community composition in 506 samples from the International Census of Marine Microbes as well as 11 coastal samples taken from the California Current. These samples from both the water column and sediments covered a wide range of environmental conditions. Verrucomicrobia were present in 98% of the analyzed samples, and thus appeared nearly ubiquitous in the ocean. Based on the occurrence of amplified 16S ribosomal RNA sequences, Verrucomicrobia constituted on average 2% of the water column and 1.4% of the sediment bacterial communities. The diversity of Verrucomicrobia displayed a biogeography at multiple taxonomic levels and thus, specific lineages appeared to have clear habitat preference. We found that subdivision 1 and 4 generally dominated marine bacterial communities, whereas subdivision 2 was more frequent in low salinity waters. Within the subdivisions, Verrucomicrobia community composition were significantly different in the water column compared with sediment as well as within the water column along gradients of salinity, temperature, nitrate, depth and overall water column depth. Although we still know little about the ecophysiology of Verrucomicrobia lineages, the ubiquity of this phylum suggests that it may be important for the biogeochemical cycle of carbon in the ocean.
PMCID: PMC3400412  PMID: 22318305
Verrucomicrobia; bacterial communities; ICoMM
13.  Detection and Cultivation of Soil Verrucomicrobia 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(12):8402-8410.
Only one isolate each of the class “Spartobacteria” (subdivision 2 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia) and of subdivision 3 of Verrucomicrobia have previously been reported to grow in laboratory culture. Using media that had been used successfully in other studies to isolate members of diverse groups of soil bacteria, we generated a collection of over 1,200 isolates from soil from a pasture. An oligonucleotide probe that targets the 16S rRNA genes of verrucomicrobia was used to screen this collection, and 14 new verrucomicrobia were identified. Nine of these belonged to the class “Spartobacteria” and were related to “Chthoniobacter flavus.” Five further isolates were members of subdivision 3 and were related to the only known isolate of this subdivision. The differences in the 16S rRNA gene sequences of the new isolates and previously described isolates, of up to 10%, indicated that the new isolates represent new species and genera. All but two of the verrucomicrobial isolates were from colonies that first became visible one or more months after inoculation of plates with soil, but subcultures grew more rapidly. Analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes in the pasture soil showed that members of the class “Spartobacteria” were more numerous than members of subdivision 3. Isolates of subdivision 3 were only found on plates receiving an inoculum that yielded a mean of 29 colonies per plate, while members of the class “Spartobacteria” were only found on plates receiving a more dilute inoculum that resulted in a mean of five colonies per plate. This suggested that colony development by members of the class “Spartobacteria” was inhibited by other culturable bacteria.
PMCID: PMC1317444  PMID: 16332828
14.  High-Quality Draft Genome Sequence of the Opitutaceae Bacterium Strain TAV1, a Symbiont of the Wood-Feeding Termite Reticulitermes flavipes 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(10):2744-2745.
Microbial communities in the termite hindgut are essential for degrading plant material. We present the high-quality draft genome sequence of the Opitutaceae bacterium strain TAV1, the first member of the phylum Verrucomicrobia to be isolated from wood-feeding termites. The genomic analysis reveals genes coding for lignocellulosic degradation and nitrogen fixation.
PMCID: PMC3347190  PMID: 22535930
15.  Genomic and Physiological Analysis of Carbon Storage in the Verrucomicrobial Methanotroph “Ca. Methylacidiphilum Fumariolicum” SolV 
“Candidatus Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum” SolV is a verrucomicrobial methanotroph that can grow in extremely acidic environments at high temperature. Strain SolV fixes carbon dioxide (CO2) via the Calvin–Benson–Bassham cycle with methane as energy source, a trait so far very unusual in methanotrophs. In this study, the ability of “Ca. M. fumariolicum” to store carbon was explored by genome analysis, physiological studies, and electron microscopy. When cell cultures were depleted for nitrogen, glycogen storage was clearly observed in cytoplasmic storage vesicles by electron microscopy. After cessation of growth, the dry weight kept increasing and the bacteria were filled up almost entirely by glycogen. This was confirmed by biochemical analysis, which showed that glycogen accumulated to 36% of the total dry weight of the cells. When methane was removed from the culture, this glycogen was consumed within 47 days. During the period of glycogen consumption, the bacteria kept their viability high when compared to bacteria without glycogen (from cultures growing exponentially). The latter bacteria lost viability already after a few days when starved for methane. Analysis of the draft genome of “Ca. M. fumariolicum” SolV demonstrated that all known genes for glycogen storage and degradation were present and also transcribed. Phylogenetic analysis of these genes showed that they form a separate cluster with “Ca. M. infernorum” V4, and the most closely related other sequences only have an identity of 40%. This study presents the first physiological evidence of glycogen storage in the phylum Verrucomicrobia and indicates that carbon storage is important for survival at times of methane starvation.
PMCID: PMC3460235  PMID: 23060867
Methylacidiphilum; methane; Verrucomicrobia; carbon storage; glycogen; survival
16.  Denitrifying Bacteria Isolated from Terrestrial Subsurface Sediments Exposed to Mixed-Waste Contamination▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(10):3244-3254.
In terrestrial subsurface environments where nitrate is a critical groundwater contaminant, few cultivated representatives are available to verify the metabolism of organisms that catalyze denitrification. In this study, five species of denitrifying bacteria from three phyla were isolated from subsurface sediments exposed to metal radionuclide and nitrate contamination as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Challenge (OR-IFRC). Isolates belonged to the genera Afipia and Hyphomicrobium (Alphaproteobacteria), Rhodanobacter (Gammaproteobacteria), Intrasporangium (Actinobacteria), and Bacillus (Firmicutes). Isolates from the phylum Proteobacteria were complete denitrifiers, whereas the Gram-positive isolates reduced nitrate to nitrous oxide. rRNA gene analyses coupled with physiological and genomic analyses suggest that bacteria from the genus Rhodanobacter are a diverse population of denitrifiers that are circumneutral to moderately acidophilic, with a high relative abundance in areas of the acidic source zone at the OR-IFRC site. Based on genome analysis, Rhodanobacter species contain two nitrite reductase genes and have not been detected in functional-gene surveys of denitrifying bacteria at the OR-IFRC site. Nitrite and nitrous oxide reductase gene sequences were recovered from the isolates and from the terrestrial subsurface by designing primer sets mined from genomic and metagenomic data and from draft genomes of two of the isolates. We demonstrate that a combination of cultivation and genomic and metagenomic data is essential to the in situ characterization of denitrifiers and that current PCR-based approaches are not suitable for deep coverage of denitrifiers. Our results indicate that the diversity of denitrifiers is significantly underestimated in the terrestrial subsurface.
PMCID: PMC2869116  PMID: 20305024
17.  Genome Analysis Coupled with Physiological Studies Reveals a Diverse Nitrogen Metabolism in Methylocystis sp. Strain SC2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e74767.
Methylocystis sp. strain SC2 can adapt to a wide range of methane concentrations. This is due to the presence of two isozymes of particulate methane monooxygenase exhibiting different methane oxidation kinetics. To gain insight into the underlying genetic information, its genome was sequenced and found to comprise a 3.77 Mb chromosome and two large plasmids.
Principal Findings
We report important features of the strain SC2 genome. Its sequence is compared with those of seven other methanotroph genomes, comprising members of the Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia. While the pan-genome of all eight methanotroph genomes totals 19,358 CDS, only 154 CDS are shared. The number of core genes increased with phylogenetic relatedness: 328 CDS for proteobacterial methanotrophs and 1,853 CDS for the three alphaproteobacterial Methylocystaceae members, Methylocystis sp. strain SC2 and strain Rockwell, and Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b. The comparative study was coupled with physiological experiments to verify that strain SC2 has diverse nitrogen metabolism capabilities. In correspondence to a full complement of 34 genes involved in N2 fixation, strain SC2 was found to grow with atmospheric N2 as the sole nitrogen source, preferably at low oxygen concentrations. Denitrification-mediated accumulation of 0.7 nmol 30N2/hr/mg dry weight of cells under anoxic conditions was detected by tracer analysis. N2 production is related to the activities of plasmid-borne nitric oxide and nitrous oxide reductases.
Presence of a complete denitrification pathway in strain SC2, including the plasmid-encoded nosRZDFYX operon, is unique among known methanotrophs. However, the exact ecophysiological role of this pathway still needs to be elucidated. Detoxification of toxic nitrogen compounds and energy conservation under oxygen-limiting conditions are among the possible roles. Relevant features that may stimulate further research are, for example, absence of CRISPR/Cas systems in strain SC2, high number of iron acquisition systems in strain OB3b, and large number of transposases in strain Rockwell.
PMCID: PMC3794950  PMID: 24130670
18.  New and Rare Carotenoids Isolated from Marine Bacteria and Their Antioxidant Activities 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(3):1690-1698.
Marine bacteria have not been examined as extensively as land bacteria. We screened carotenoids from orange or red pigments-producing marine bacteria belonging to rare or novel species. The new acyclic carotenoids with a C30 aglycone, diapolycopenedioc acid xylosylesters A–C and methyl 5-glucosyl-5,6-dihydro-apo-4,4′-lycopenoate, were isolated from the novel Gram-negative bacterium Rubritalea squalenifaciens, which belongs to phylum Verrucomicrobia, as well as the low-GC Gram-positive bacterium Planococcus maritimus strain iso-3 belonging to the class Bacilli, phylum Firmicutes, respectively. The rare monocyclic C40 carotenoids, (3R)-saproxanthin and (3R,2′S)-myxol, were isolated from novel species of Gram-negative bacteria belonging to the family Flavobacteriaceae, phylum Bacteroidetes. In this review, we report the structures and antioxidant activities of these carotenoids, and consider relationships between bacterial phyla and carotenoid structures.
PMCID: PMC3967232  PMID: 24663119
diapolycopenedioc acid xylosylesters A–C; methyl 5-glucosyl-5,6-dihydro-apo-4,4′-lycopenoate; (3R)-saproxanthin; (3R,2′S)-myxol; antioxidant activity
19.  A Comprehensive Census of Microbial Diversity in Hot Springs of Tengchong, Yunnan Province China Using 16S rRNA Gene Pyrosequencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53350.
The Rehai and Ruidian geothermal fields, located in Tengchong County, Yunnan Province, China, host a variety of geochemically distinct hot springs. In this study, we report a comprehensive, cultivation-independent census of microbial communities in 37 samples collected from these geothermal fields, encompassing sites ranging in temperature from 55.1 to 93.6°C, in pH from 2.5 to 9.4, and in mineralogy from silicates in Rehai to carbonates in Ruidian. Richness was low in all samples, with 21–123 species-level OTUs detected. The bacterial phylum Aquificae or archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota were dominant in Rehai samples, yet the dominant taxa within those phyla depended on temperature, pH, and geochemistry. Rehai springs with low pH (2.5–2.6), high temperature (85.1–89.1°C), and high sulfur contents favored the crenarchaeal order Sulfolobales, whereas those with low pH (2.6–4.8) and cooler temperature (55.1–64.5°C) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobaculum. Rehai springs with neutral-alkaline pH (7.2–9.4) and high temperature (>80°C) with high concentrations of silica and salt ions (Na, K, and Cl) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter and crenarchaeal orders Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales. Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales became predominant in springs with pH much higher than the optimum and even the maximum pH known for these orders. Ruidian water samples harbored a single Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter, whereas microbial communities in Ruidian sediment samples were more diverse at the phylum level and distinctly different from those in Rehai and Ruidian water samples, with a higher abundance of uncultivated lineages, close relatives of the ammonia-oxidizing archaeon “Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii”, and candidate division O1aA90 and OP1. These differences between Ruidian sediments and Rehai samples were likely caused by temperature, pH, and sediment mineralogy. The results of this study significantly expand the current understanding of the microbiology in Tengchong hot springs and provide a basis for comparison with other geothermal systems around the world.
PMCID: PMC3541193  PMID: 23326417
20.  The under-recognized dominance of Verrucomicrobia in soil bacterial communities 
Soil biology & biochemistry  2011;43(7):1450-1455.
Verrucomicrobia are ubiquitous in soil, but members of this bacterial phylum are thought to be present at low frequency in soil, with few studies focusing specifically on verrucomicrobial abundance, diversity, and distribution. Here we used barcoded pyrosequencing to analyze verrucomicrobial communities in surface soils collected across a range of biomes in Antarctica, Europe, and the Americas (112 samples), as well as soils collected from pits dug in a montane coniferous forest (69 samples). Data collected from surface horizons indicate that Verrucomicrobia average 23% of bacterial sequences, making them far more abundant than had been estimated. We show that this underestimation is likely due to primer bias, as many of the commonly used PCR primers appear to exclude verrucomicrobial 16S rRNA genes during amplification. Verrucomicrobia were detected in 180 out of 181 soils examined, with members of the class Spartobacteria dominating verrucomicrobial communities in nearly all biomes and soil depths. The relative abundance of Verrucomicrobia was highest in grasslands and in subsurface soil horizons, where they were often the dominant bacterial phylum. Although their ecology remains poorly understood, Verrucomicrobia appear to be dominant in many soil bacterial communities across the globe, making additional research on their ecology clearly necessary.
PMCID: PMC3260529  PMID: 22267877
Verrucomicrobia; Spartobacteria; Bacteria; Relative abundance; Ecological dominance; Primer bias; Barcoded pyrosequencing; 16S rRNA genes; Oligotroph; Subsurface horizon
21.  Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons to study the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) 
AMB Express  2011;1:41.
The microbes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are of high importance for the health of the host. In this study, Roche 454 pyrosequencing was applied to a pooled set of different 16S rRNA gene amplicons obtained from GI content of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) to make an inventory of the diversity of the microbiota in the GI tract. Compared to other studies, our culture-independent investigation reveals an impressive diversity of the microbial flora of the carp GI tract. The major group of obtained sequences belonged to the phylum Fusobacteria. Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes and Gammaproteobacteria were other well represented groups of micro-organisms. Verrucomicrobiae, Clostridia and Bacilli (the latter two belonging to the phylum Firmicutes) had fewer representatives among the analyzed sequences. Many of these bacteria might be of high physiological relevance for carp as these groups have been implicated in vitamin production, nitrogen cycling and (cellulose) fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3226434  PMID: 22093413
intestinal tract; biodiversity; carp; aquaculture; pyrosequencing; 16S rRNA
22.  The Candidate Phylum Poribacteria by Single-Cell Genomics: New Insights into Phylogeny, Cell-Compartmentation, Eukaryote-Like Repeat Proteins, and Other Genomic Features 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87353.
The candidate phylum Poribacteria is one of the most dominant and widespread members of the microbial communities residing within marine sponges. Cell compartmentalization had been postulated along with their discovery about a decade ago and their phylogenetic association to the Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Chlamydiae superphylum was proposed soon thereafter. In the present study we revised these features based on genomic data obtained from six poribacterial single cells. We propose that Poribacteria form a distinct monophyletic phylum contiguous to the PVC superphylum together with other candidate phyla. Our genomic analyses supported the possibility of cell compartmentalization in form of bacterial microcompartments. Further analyses of eukaryote-like protein domains stressed the importance of such proteins with features including tetratricopeptide repeats, leucin rich repeats as well as low density lipoproteins receptor repeats, the latter of which are reported here for the first time from a sponge symbiont. Finally, examining the most abundant protein domain family on poribacterial genomes revealed diverse phyH family proteins, some of which may be related to dissolved organic posphorus uptake.
PMCID: PMC3909097  PMID: 24498082
23.  Genome Sequence of the Verrucomicrobium Opitutus terrae PB90-1, an Abundant Inhabitant of Rice Paddy Soil Ecosystems▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(9):2367-2368.
Bacteria of the deeply branching phylum Verrucomicrobia are rarely cultured yet commonly detected in metagenomic libraries from aquatic, terrestrial, and intestinal environments. We have sequenced the genome of Opitutus terrae PB90-1, a fermentative anaerobe within this phylum, isolated from rice paddy soil and capable of propionate production from plant-derived polysaccharides.
PMCID: PMC3133072  PMID: 21398538
24.  Complete genome sequence of ‘Thermobaculum terrenum’ type strain (YNP1T) 
Standards in Genomic Sciences  2010;3(2):153-162.
‘Thermobaculum terrenum’ Botero et al. 2004 is the sole species within the proposed genus ‘Thermobaculum’. Strain YNP1T is the only cultivated member of an acid tolerant, extremely thermophilic species belonging to a phylogenetically isolated environmental clone group within the phylum Chloroflexi. At present, the name ‘Thermobaculum terrenum’ is not yet validly published as it contravenes Rule 30 (3a) of the Bacteriological Code. The bacterium was isolated from a slightly acidic extreme thermal soil in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (USA). Depending on its final taxonomic allocation, this is likely to be the third completed genome sequence of a member of the class Thermomicrobia and the seventh type strain genome from the phylum Chloroflexi. The 3,101,581 bp long genome with its 2,872 protein-coding and 58 RNA genes is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
PMCID: PMC3035366  PMID: 21304745
extreme thermal soil; thermoacidophile; Gram-positive; nonmotile; non-spore-forming; obligate aerobe; Incertae sedis; Chloroflexi; GEBA
25.  Complete genome sequence of Staphylothermus marinus Stetter and Fiala 1986 type strain F1 
Standards in Genomic Sciences  2009;1(2):183-188.
Staphylothermus marinus Fiala and Stetter 1986 belongs to the order Desulfurococcales within the archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota. S. marinus is a hyperthermophilic, sulfur-dependent, anaerobic heterotroph. Strain F1 was isolated from geothermally heated sediments at Vulcano, Italy, but S. marinus has also been isolated from a hydrothermal vent on the East Pacific Rise. We report the complete genome of S. marinus strain F1, the type strain of the species. This is the fifth reported complete genome sequence from the order Desulfurococcales.
PMCID: PMC3035234  PMID: 21304655
Archaea; Desulfurococcales; sulfur-reducing; hyperthermophile

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