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26.  A Single-Culture Bioprocess of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus to Upgrade Digester Biogas by CO2-to-CH4 Conversion with H2 
Archaea  2013;2013:157529.
We optimized and tested a postbioprocessing step with a single-culture archaeon to upgrade biogas (i.e., increase methane content) from anaerobic digesters via conversion of CO2 into CH4 by feeding H2 gas. We optimized a culture of the thermophilic methanogen Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus using: (1) a synthetic H2/CO2 mixture; (2) the same mixture with pressurization; (3) a synthetic biogas with different CH4 contents and H2; and (4) an industrial, untreated biogas and H2. A laboratory culture with a robust growth (dry weight of 6.4–7.4 g/L; OD600 of 13.6–15.4), a volumetric methane production rate of 21 L/L culture-day, and a H2 conversion efficiency of 89% was moved to an industrial anaerobic digester facility, where it was restarted and fed untreated biogas with a methane content of ~70% at a rate such that CO2 was in excess of the stoichiometric requirements in relation to H2. Over an 8-day operating period, the dry weight of the culture initially decreased slightly before stabilizing at an elevated level of ~8 g/L to achieve a volumetric methane production rate of 21 L/L culture-day and a H2 conversion efficiency of 62%. While some microbial contamination of the culture was observed via microscopy, it did not affect the methane production rate of the culture.
PMCID: PMC3806361  PMID: 24194675
27.  Comparative Analysis of Barophily-Related Amino Acid Content in Protein Domains of Pyrococcus abyssi and Pyrococcus furiosus 
Archaea  2013;2013:680436.
Amino acid substitution patterns between the nonbarophilic Pyrococcus furiosus and its barophilic relative P. abyssi confirm that hydrostatic pressure asymmetry indices reflect the extent to which amino acids are preferred by barophilic archaeal organisms. Substitution patterns in entire protein sequences, shared protein domains defined at fold superfamily level, domains in homologous sequence pairs, and domains of very ancient and very recent origin now provide further clues about the environment that led to the genetic code and diversified life. The pyrococcal proteomes are very similar and share a very early ancestor. Relative amino acid abundance analyses showed that biases in the use of amino acids are due to their shared fold superfamilies. Within these repertoires, only two of the five amino acids that are preferentially barophilic, aspartic acid and arginine, displayed this preference significantly and consistently across structure and in domains appearing in the ancestor. The more primordial asparagine, lysine and threonine displayed a consistent preference for nonbarophily across structure and in the ancestor. Since barophilic preferences are already evident in ancient domains that are at least ~3 billion year old, we conclude that barophily is a very ancient trait that unfolded concurrently with genetic idiosyncrasies in convergence towards a universal code.
PMCID: PMC3804272  PMID: 24187517
28.  Microbial Community Analysis of a Methane-Producing Biocathode in a Bioelectrochemical System 
Archaea  2013;2013:481784.
A methane-producing biocathode that converts CO2 into methane was studied electrochemically and microbiologically. The biocathode produced methane at a maximum rate of 5.1 L CH4/m2 projected cathode per day (1.6 A/m2) at −0.7 V versus NHE cathode potential and 3.0 L CH4/m2 projected cathode per day (0.9 A/m2) at −0.6 V versus NHE cathode potential. The microbial community at the biocathode was dominated by three phylotypes of Archaea and six phylotypes of bacteria. The Archaeal phylotypes were most closely related to Methanobacterium palustre and Methanobacterium aarhusense. Besides methanogenic Archaea, bacteria seemed to be associated with methane production, producing hydrogen as an intermediate. Biomass density varied greatly with part of the carbon electrode covered with a dense biofilm, while only clusters of cells were found on other parts. Based on our results, we discuss how inoculum enrichment and changing operational conditions may help to increase biomass density and to select for microorganisms that produce methane.
PMCID: PMC3800620  PMID: 24187516
29.  Protein Adaptations in Archaeal Extremophiles 
Archaea  2013;2013:373275.
Extremophiles, especially those in Archaea, have a myriad of adaptations that keep their cellular proteins stable and active under the extreme conditions in which they live. Rather than having one basic set of adaptations that works for all environments, Archaea have evolved separate protein features that are customized for each environment. We categorized the Archaea into three general groups to describe what is known about their protein adaptations: thermophilic, psychrophilic, and halophilic. Thermophilic proteins tend to have a prominent hydrophobic core and increased electrostatic interactions to maintain activity at high temperatures. Psychrophilic proteins have a reduced hydrophobic core and a less charged protein surface to maintain flexibility and activity under cold temperatures. Halophilic proteins are characterized by increased negative surface charge due to increased acidic amino acid content and peptide insertions, which compensates for the extreme ionic conditions. While acidophiles, alkaliphiles, and piezophiles are their own class of Archaea, their protein adaptations toward pH and pressure are less discernible. By understanding the protein adaptations used by archaeal extremophiles, we hope to be able to engineer and utilize proteins for industrial, environmental, and biotechnological applications where function in extreme conditions is required for activity.
PMCID: PMC3787623  PMID: 24151449
30.  Genetic Confirmation of the Role of Sulfopyruvate Decarboxylase in Coenzyme M Biosynthesis in Methanococcus maripaludis 
Archaea  2013;2013:185250.
Coenzyme M is an essential coenzyme for methanogenesis. The proposed biosynthetic pathway consists of five steps, of which the fourth step is catalyzed by sulfopyruvate decarboxylase (ComDE). Disruption of the gene comE by transposon mutagenesis resulted in a partial coenzyme M auxotroph, which grew poorly in the absence of coenzyme M and retained less than 3% of the wild type level of coenzyme M biosynthesis. Upon coenzyme M addition, normal growth of the mutant was restored. Moreover, complementation of the mutation with the wild type comE gene in trans restored full growth in the absence of coenzyme M. These results confirm that ComE plays an important role in coenzyme M biosynthesis. The inability to yield a complete CoM auxotroph suggests that either the transposon insertion failed to completely inactivate the gene or M. maripaludis possesses a promiscuous activity that partially complemented the mutation.
PMCID: PMC3787637  PMID: 24151448
31.  Low-Temperature (10°C) Anaerobic Digestion of Dilute Dairy Wastewater in an EGSB Bioreactor: Microbial Community Structure, Population Dynamics, and Kinetics of Methanogenic Populations 
Archaea  2013;2013:346171.
The feasibility of anaerobic digestion of dairy wastewater at 10°C was investigated in a high height : diameter ratio EGSB reactor. Stable performance was observed at an applied organic loading rate (OLR) of 0.5–2 kg COD m−3 d−1 with chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiencies above 85%. When applied OLR increased to values above 2 kg COD m−3 d−1, biotreatment efficiency deteriorated, with methanogenesis being the rate-limiting step. The bioreactor recovered quickly (3 days) after reduction of the OLR. qPCR results showed a reduction in the abundance of hydrogenotrophic methanogenic Methanomicrobiales and Methanobacteriales throughout the steady state period followed by a sharp increase in their numbers (111-fold) after the load shock. Specific methanogenic activity and maximum substrate utilising rate (Amax) of the biomass at the end of trial indicated increased activity and preference towards hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, which correlated well with the increased abundance of hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Acetoclastic Methanosaeta spp. remained at stable levels throughout the trial. However, increased apparent half-saturation constant (Km) at the end of the trial indicated a decrease in the specific substrate affinity for acetate of the sludge, suggesting that Methanosaeta spp., which have high substrate affinity, started to be outcompeted in the reactor.
PMCID: PMC3780618  PMID: 24089597
32.  Archaeal Assemblages Inhabiting Temperate Mixed Forest Soil Fluctuate in Taxon Composition and Spatial Distribution over Time 
Archaea  2013;2013:870825.
This study explored the persistence and spatial distribution of a diverse Archaeal assemblage inhabiting a temperate mixed forest ecosystem. Persistence under native conditions was measured from 2001 to 2010, 2011, and 2012 by comparison of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. The Archaeal assemblages at each of these time points were found to be significantly different (AMOVA, P < 0.01), and the nature of this difference was dependent on taxonomic rank. For example, the cosmopolitan genus g_Ca. Nitrososphaera (I.1b) was detected at all time points, but within this taxon the abundance of s_SCA1145, s_SCA1170, and s_Ca. N. gargensis fluctuated over time. In addition, spatial heterogeneity (patchiness) was measured at these time points using 1D TRFLP-SSCP fingerprinting to screen soil samples covering multiple spatial scales. This included soil collected from small volumes of 3 cubic centimeters to larger scales—over a surface area of 50 m2, plots located 1.3 km apart, and a separate locality 23 km away. The spatial distribution of Archaea in these samples changed over time, and while g_Ca. Nitrososphaera (I.1b) was dominant over larger scales, patches were found at smaller scales that were dominated by other taxa. This study measured the degree of change for Archaeal taxon composition and patchiness over time in temperate mixed forest soil.
PMCID: PMC3747363  PMID: 23983618
33.  Virus-Host and CRISPR Dynamics in Archaea-Dominated Hypersaline Lake Tyrrell, Victoria, Australia 
Archaea  2013;2013:370871.
The study of natural archaeal assemblages requires community context, namely, a concurrent assessment of the dynamics of archaeal, bacterial, and viral populations. Here, we use filter size-resolved metagenomic analyses to report the dynamics of 101 archaeal and bacterial OTUs and 140 viral populations across 17 samples collected over different timescales from 2007–2010 from Australian hypersaline Lake Tyrrell (LT). All samples were dominated by Archaea (75–95%). Archaeal, bacterial, and viral populations were found to be dynamic on timescales of months to years, and different viral assemblages were present in planktonic, relative to host-associated (active and provirus) size fractions. Analyses of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) regions indicate that both rare and abundant viruses were targeted, primarily by lower abundance hosts. Although very few spacers had hits to the NCBI nr database or to the 140 LT viral populations, 21% had hits to unassembled LT viral concentrate reads. This suggests local adaptation to LT-specific viruses and/or undersampling of haloviral assemblages in public databases, along with successful CRISPR-mediated maintenance of viral populations at abundances low enough to preclude genomic assembly. This is the first metagenomic report evaluating widespread archaeal dynamics at the population level on short timescales in a hypersaline system.
PMCID: PMC3703381  PMID: 23853523
34.  Archaea in Past and Present Geobiochemical Processes and Elemental Cycles 
Archaea  2013;2013:930493.
PMCID: PMC3697276  PMID: 23843726
35.  Deposition of Biogenic Iron Minerals in a Methane Oxidizing Microbial Mat 
Archaea  2013;2013:102972.
The syntrophic community between anaerobic methanotrophic archaea and sulfate reducing bacteria forms thick, black layers within multi-layered microbial mats in chimney-like carbonate concretions of methane seeps located in the Black Sea Crimean shelf. The microbial consortium conducts anaerobic oxidation of methane, which leads to the formation of mainly two biomineral by-products, calcium carbonates and iron sulfides, building up these chimneys. Iron sulfides are generated by the microbial reduction of oxidized sulfur compounds in the microbial mats. Here we show that sulfate reducing bacteria deposit biogenic iron sulfides extra- and intracellularly, the latter in magnetosome-like chains. These chains appear to be stable after cell lysis and tend to attach to cell debris within the microbial mat. The particles may be important nuclei for larger iron sulfide mineral aggregates.
PMCID: PMC3697272  PMID: 23843725
36.  The Nitrosopumilus maritimus CdvB, but Not FtsZ, Assembles into Polymers 
Archaea  2013;2013:104147.
Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota are two major phyla of archaea which use distinct molecular apparatuses for cell division. Euryarchaea make use of the tubulin-related protein FtsZ, while Crenarchaea, which appear to lack functional FtsZ, employ the Cdv (cell division) components to divide. Ammonia oxidizing archaeon (AOA) Nitrosopumilus maritimus belongs to another archaeal phylum, the Thaumarchaeota, which has both FtsZ and Cdv genes in the genome. Here, we used a heterologous expression system to characterize FtsZ and Cdv proteins from N. maritimus by investigating the ability of these proteins to form polymers. We show that one of the Cdv proteins in N. maritimus, the CdvB (Nmar_0816), is capable of forming stable polymers when expressed in fission yeast. The N. maritimus CdvB is also capable of assembling into filaments in mammalian cells. However, N. maritimus FtsZ does not assemble into polymers in our system. The ability of CdvB, but not FtsZ, to polymerize is consistent with a recent finding showing that several Cdv proteins, but not FtsZ, localize to the mid-cell site in the dividing N. maritimus. Thus, we propose that it is Cdv proteins, rather than FtsZ, that function as the cell division apparatus in N. maritimus.
PMCID: PMC3684127  PMID: 23818813
37.  The Effect of Saturated Fatty Acids on Methanogenesis and Cell Viability of Methanobrevibacter ruminantium 
Archaea  2013;2013:106916.
Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are known to suppress ruminal methanogenesis, but the underlying mechanisms are not well known. In the present study, inhibition of methane formation, cell membrane permeability (potassium efflux), and survival rate (LIVE/DEAD staining) of pure ruminal Methanobrevibacter ruminantium (DSM 1093) cell suspensions were tested for a number of SFAs. Methane production rate was not influenced by low concentrations of lauric (C12; 1 μg/mL), myristic (C14; 1 and 5 μg/mL), or palmitic (C16; 3 and 5 μg/mL) acids, while higher concentrations were inhibitory. C12 and C14 were most inhibitory. Stearic acid (C18), tested at 10–80 μg/mL and ineffective at 37°C, decreased methane production rate by half or more at 50°C and ≥50 μg/mL. Potassium efflux was triggered by SFAs (C12 = C14 > C16 > C18 = control), corroborating data on methane inhibition. Moreover, the exposure to C12 and C14 decreased cell viability to close to zero, while 40% of control cells remained alive after 24 h. Generally, tested SFAs inhibited methanogenesis, increased cell membrane permeability, and decreased survival of M. ruminantium in a dose- and time-dependent way. These results give new insights into how the methane suppressing effect of SFAs could be mediated in methanogens.
PMCID: PMC3655487  PMID: 23710130
38.  Archaeal Community Structures in the Solfataric Acidic Hot Springs with Different Temperatures and Elemental Compositions 
Archaea  2013;2013:723871.
Archaeal 16S rRNA gene compositions and environmental factors of four distinct solfataric acidic hot springs in Kirishima, Japan were compared. The four ponds were selected by differences of temperature and total dissolved elemental concentration as follows: (1) Pond-A: 93°C and 1679 mg L−1, (2) Pond-B: 66°C and 2248 mg L−1, (3) Pond-C: 88°C and 198 mg L−1, and (4) Pond-D: 67°C and 340 mg L−1. In total, 431 clones of 16S rRNA gene were classified into 26 phylotypes. In Pond-B, the archaeal diversity was the highest among the four, and the members of the order Sulfolobales were dominant. The Pond-D also showed relatively high diversity, and the most frequent group was uncultured thermoacidic spring clone group. In contrast to Pond-B and Pond-D, much less diverse archaeal clones were detected in Pond-A and Pond-C showing higher temperatures. However, dominant groups in these ponds were also different from each other. The members of the order Sulfolobales shared 89% of total clones in Pond-A, and the uncultured crenarchaeal groups shared 99% of total Pond-C clones. Therefore, species compositions and biodiversity were clearly different among the ponds showing different temperatures and dissolved elemental concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3654644  PMID: 23710131
39.  PH1: An Archaeovirus of Haloarcula hispanica Related to SH1 and HHIV-2 
Archaea  2013;2013:456318.
Halovirus PH1 infects Haloarcula hispanica and was isolated from an Australian salt lake. The burst size in single-step growth conditions was 50–100 PFU/cell, but cell density did not decrease until well after the rise (4–6 hr p.i.), indicating that the virus could exit without cell lysis. Virions were round, 51 nm in diameter, displayed a layered capsid structure, and were sensitive to chloroform and lowered salt concentration. The genome is linear dsDNA, 28,064 bp in length, with 337 bp terminal repeats and terminal proteins, and could transfect haloarchaeal species belonging to five different genera. The genome is predicted to carry 49 ORFs, including those for structural proteins, several of which were identified by mass spectroscopy. The close similarity of PH1 to SH1 (74% nucleotide identity) allowed a detailed description and analysis of the differences (divergent regions) between the two genomes, including the detection of repeat-mediated deletions. The relationship of SH1-like and pleolipoviruses to previously described genomic loci of virus and plasmid-related elements (ViPREs) of haloarchaea revealed an extensive level of recombination between the known haloviruses. PH1 is a member of the same virus group as SH1 and HHIV-2, and we propose the name halosphaerovirus to accommodate these viruses.
PMCID: PMC3622292  PMID: 23585730
40.  Ribonucleoproteins in Archaeal Pre-rRNA Processing and Modification 
Archaea  2013;2013:614735.
Given that ribosomes are one of the most important cellular macromolecular machines, it is not surprising that there is intensive research in ribosome biogenesis. Ribosome biogenesis is a complex process. The maturation of ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) requires not only the precise cleaving and folding of the pre-rRNA but also extensive nucleotide modifications. At the heart of the processing and modifications of pre-rRNAs in Archaea and Eukarya are ribonucleoprotein (RNP) machines. They are called small RNPs (sRNPs), in Archaea, and small nucleolar RNPs (snoRNPs), in Eukarya. Studies on ribosome biogenesis originally focused on eukaryotic systems. However, recent studies on archaeal sRNPs have provided important insights into the functions of these RNPs. This paper will introduce archaeal rRNA gene organization and pre-rRNA processing, with a particular focus on the discovery of the archaeal sRNP components, their functions in nucleotide modification, and their structures.
PMCID: PMC3608112  PMID: 23554567
41.  Temporal and Spatial Coexistence of Archaeal and Bacterial amoA Genes and Gene Transcripts in Lake Lucerne 
Archaea  2013;2013:289478.
Despite their crucial role in the nitrogen cycle, freshwater ecosystems are relatively rarely studied for active ammonia oxidizers (AO). This study of Lake Lucerne determined the abundance of both amoA genes and gene transcripts of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) over a period of 16 months, shedding more light on the role of both AO in a deep, alpine lake environment. At the surface, at 42 m water depth, and in the water layer immediately above the sediment, AOA generally outnumbered AOB. However, in the surface water during summer stratification, when both AO were low in abundance, AOB were more numerous than AOA. Temporal distribution patterns of AOA and AOB were comparable. Higher abundances of amoA gene transcripts were observed at the onset and end of summer stratification. In summer, archaeal amoA genes and transcripts correlated negatively with temperature and conductivity. Concentrations of ammonium and oxygen did not vary enough to explain the amoA gene and transcript dynamics. The observed herbivorous zooplankton may have caused a hidden flux of mineralized ammonium and a change in abundance of genes and transcripts. At the surface, AO might have been repressed during summer stratification due to nutrient limitation caused by active phytoplankton.
PMCID: PMC3603158  PMID: 23533328
42.  Crystal Structure of PAV1-137: A Protein from the Virus PAV1 That Infects Pyrococcus abyssi 
Archaea  2013;2013:568053.
Pyrococcus abyssi virus 1 (PAV1) was the first virus particle infecting a hyperthermophilic Euryarchaeota (Pyrococcus abyssi strain GE23) that has been isolated and characterized. It is lemon shaped and is decorated with a short fibered tail. PAV1 morphologically resembles the fusiform members of the family Fuselloviridae or the genus Salterprovirus. The 18 kb dsDNA genome of PAV1 contains 25 predicted genes, most of them of unknown function. To help assigning functions to these proteins, we have initiated structural studies of the PAV1 proteome. We determined the crystal structure of a putative protein of 137 residues (PAV1-137) at a resolution of 2.2 Å. The protein forms dimers both in solution and in the crystal. The fold of PAV1-137 is a four-α-helical bundle analogous to those found in some eukaryotic adhesion proteins such as focal adhesion kinase, suggesting that PAV1-137 is involved in protein-protein interactions.
PMCID: PMC3603647  PMID: 23533329
43.  Contribution of Transcriptomics to Systems-Level Understanding of Methanogenic Archaea 
Archaea  2013;2013:586369.
Methane-producing Archaea are of interest due to their contribution to atmospheric change and for their roles in technological applications including waste treatment and biofuel production. Although restricted to anaerobic environments, methanogens are found in a wide variety of habitats, where they commonly live in syntrophic relationships with bacterial partners. Owing to tight thermodynamic constraints of methanogenesis alone or in syntrophic metabolism, methanogens must carefully regulate their catabolic pathways including the regulation of RNA transcripts. The transcriptome is a dynamic and important control point in microbial systems. This paper assesses the impact of mRNA (transcriptome) studies on the understanding of methanogenesis with special consideration given to how methanogenesis is regulated to cope with nutrient limitation, environmental variability, and interactions with syntrophic partners. In comparison with traditional microarray-based transcriptome analyses, next-generation high-throughput RNA sequencing is greatly advantageous in assessing transcription start sites, the extent of 5′ untranslated regions, operonic structure, and the presence of small RNAs. We are still in the early stages of understanding RNA regulation but it is already clear that determinants beyond transcript abundance are highly relevant to the lifestyles of methanogens, requiring further study.
PMCID: PMC3600222  PMID: 23533330
44.  Microbial Diversity and Biochemical Potential Encoded by Thermal Spring Metagenomes Derived from the Kamchatka Peninsula 
Archaea  2013;2013:136714.
Volcanic regions contain a variety of environments suitable for extremophiles. This study was focused on assessing and exploiting the prokaryotic diversity of two microbial communities derived from different Kamchatkian thermal springs by metagenomic approaches. Samples were taken from a thermoacidophilic spring near the Mutnovsky Volcano and from a thermophilic spring in the Uzon Caldera. Environmental DNA for metagenomic analysis was isolated from collected sediment samples by direct cell lysis. The prokaryotic community composition was examined by analysis of archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA genes. A total number of 1235 16S rRNA gene sequences were obtained and used for taxonomic classification. Most abundant in the samples were members of Thaumarchaeota, Thermotogae, and Proteobacteria. The Mutnovsky hot spring was dominated by the Terrestrial Hot Spring Group, Kosmotoga, and Acidithiobacillus. The Uzon Caldera was dominated by uncultured members of the Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group and Enterobacteriaceae. The remaining 16S rRNA gene sequences belonged to the Aquificae, Dictyoglomi, Euryarchaeota, Korarchaeota, Thermodesulfobacteria, Firmicutes, and some potential new phyla. In addition, the recovered DNA was used for generation of metagenomic libraries, which were subsequently mined for genes encoding lipolytic and proteolytic enzymes. Three novel genes conferring lipolytic and one gene conferring proteolytic activity were identified.
PMCID: PMC3600328  PMID: 23533327
45.  Localization of Methyl-Coenzyme M Reductase as Metabolic Marker for Diverse Methanogenic Archaea 
Archaea  2013;2013:920241.
Methyl-Coenzyme M reductase (MCR) as key enzyme for methanogenesis as well as for anaerobic oxidation of methane represents an important metabolic marker for both processes in microbial biofilms. Here, the potential of MCR-specific polyclonal antibodies as metabolic marker in various methanogenic Archaea is shown. For standard growth conditions in laboratory culture, the cytoplasmic localization of the enzyme in Methanothermobacter marburgensis, Methanothermobacter wolfei, Methanococcus maripaludis, Methanosarcina mazei, and in anaerobically methane-oxidizing biofilms is demonstrated. Under growth limiting conditions on nickel-depleted media, at low linear growth of cultures, a fraction of 50–70% of the enzyme was localized close to the cytoplasmic membrane, which implies “facultative” membrane association of the enzyme. This feature may be also useful for assessment of growth-limiting conditions in microbial biofilms.
PMCID: PMC3596918  PMID: 23533332
46.  Molecular Characterization of Copper and Cadmium Resistance Determinants in the Biomining Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus metallicus 
Archaea  2013;2013:289236.
Sulfolobus metallicus is a thermoacidophilic crenarchaeon used in high-temperature bioleaching processes that is able to grow under stressing conditions such as high concentrations of heavy metals. Nevertheless, the genetic and biochemical mechanisms responsible for heavy metal resistance in S. metallicus remain uncharacterized. Proteomic analysis of S. metallicus cells exposed to 100 mM Cu revealed that 18 out of 30 upregulated proteins are related to the production and conversion of energy, amino acids biosynthesis, and stress responses. Ten of these last proteins were also up-regulated in S. metallicus treated in the presence of 1 mM Cd suggesting that at least in part, a common general response to these two heavy metals. The S. metallicus genome contained two complete cop gene clusters, each encoding a metallochaperone (CopM), a Cu-exporting ATPase (CopA), and a transcriptional regulator (CopT). Transcriptional expression analysis revealed that copM and copA from each cop gene cluster were cotranscribed and their transcript levels increased when S. metallicus was grown either in the presence of Cu or using chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) as oxidizable substrate. This study shows for the first time the presence of a duplicated version of the cop gene cluster in Archaea and characterizes some of the Cu and Cd resistance determinants in a thermophilic archaeon employed for industrial biomining.
PMCID: PMC3595675  PMID: 23509422
47.  Mechanisms of Metal Resistance and Homeostasis in Haloarchaea 
Archaea  2013;2013:732864.
Haloarchaea are the predominant microflora of hypersaline econiches such as solar salterns, soda lakes, and estuaries where the salinity ranges from 35 to 400 ppt. Econiches like estuaries and solar crystallizer ponds may contain high concentrations of metals since they serve as ecological sinks for metal pollution and also as effective traps for river borne metals. The availability of metals in these econiches is determined by the type of metal complexes formed and the solubility of the metal species at such high salinity. Haloarchaea have developed specialized mechanisms for the uptake of metals required for various key physiological processes and are not readily available at high salinity, beside evolving resistance mechanisms for metals with high solubility. The present paper seeks to give an overview of the main molecular mechanisms involved in metal tolerance in haloarchaea and focuses on factors such as salinity and metal speciation that affect the bioavailability of metals to haloarchaea. Global transcriptomic analysis during metal stress in these organisms will help in determining the various factors differentially regulated and essential for metal physiology.
PMCID: PMC3600143  PMID: 23533331
48.  Dynamics of the Methanogenic Archaea in Tropical Estuarine Sediments 
Archaea  2013;2013:582646.
Methanogenesis may represent a key process in the terminal phases of anaerobic organic matter mineralization in sediments of coastal lagoons. The aim of the present work was to study the temporal and spatial dynamics of methanogenic archaea in sediments of tropical coastal lagoons and their relationship with environmental changes in order to determine how these influence methanogenic community. Sediment samples were collected during the dry (February, May, and early June) and rainy seasons (July, October, and November). Microbiological analysis included the quantification of viable methanogenic archaea (MA) with three substrates and the evaluation of kinetic activity from acetate in the presence and absence of sulfate. The environmental variables assessed were temperature, pH, Eh, salinity, sulfate, solids content, organic carbon, and carbohydrates. MA abundance was significantly higher in the rainy season (106–107 cells/g) compared with the dry season (104–106 cells/g), with methanol as an important substrate. At spatial level, MA were detected in the two layers analyzed, and no important variations were observed either in MA abundance or activity. Salinity, sulfate, solids, organic carbon, and Eh were the environmental variables related to methanogenic community. A conceptual model is proposed to explain the dynamics of the MA.
PMCID: PMC3562609  PMID: 23401664
50.  Molecular Tools for the Detection of Nitrogen Cycling Archaea 
Archaea  2013;2013:676450.
Archaea are widespread in extreme and temperate environments, and cultured representatives cover a broad spectrum of metabolic capacities, which sets them up for potentially major roles in the biogeochemistry of their ecosystems. The detection, characterization, and quantification of archaeal functions in mixed communities require Archaea-specific primers or probes for the corresponding metabolic genes. Five pairs of degenerate primers were designed to target archaeal genes encoding key enzymes of nitrogen cycling: nitrite reductases NirA and NirB, nitrous oxide reductase (NosZ), nitrogenase reductase (NifH), and nitrate reductases NapA/NarG. Sensitivity towards their archaeal target gene, phylogenetic specificity, and gene specificity were evaluated in silico and in vitro. Owing to their moderate sensitivity/coverage, the novel nirB-targeted primers are suitable for pure culture studies only. The nirA-targeted primers showed sufficient sensitivity and phylogenetic specificity, but poor gene specificity. The primers designed for amplification of archaeal nosZ performed well in all 3 criteria; their discrimination against bacterial homologs appears to be weakened when Archaea are strongly outnumbered by bacteria in a mixed community. The novel nifH-targeted primers showed high sensitivity and gene specificity, but failed to discriminate against bacterial homologs. Despite limitations, 4 of the new primer pairs are suitable tools in several molecular methods applied in archaeal ecology.
PMCID: PMC3556428  PMID: 23365509

Results 26-50 (182)