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1.  Microbial contributions to coupled arsenic and sulfur cycling in the acid-sulfide hot spring Champagne Pool, New Zealand 
Acid-sulfide hot springs are analogs of early Earth geothermal systems where microbial metal(loid) resistance likely first evolved. Arsenic is a metalloid enriched in the acid-sulfide hot spring Champagne Pool (Waiotapu, New Zealand). Arsenic speciation in Champagne Pool follows reaction paths not yet fully understood with respect to biotic contributions and coupling to biogeochemical sulfur cycling. Here we present quantitative arsenic speciation from Champagne Pool, finding arsenite dominant in the pool, rim and outflow channel (55–75% total arsenic), and dithio- and trithioarsenates ubiquitously present as 18–25% total arsenic. In the outflow channel, dimethylmonothioarsenate comprised ≤9% total arsenic, while on the outflow terrace thioarsenates were present at 55% total arsenic. We also quantified sulfide, thiosulfate, sulfate and elemental sulfur, finding sulfide and sulfate as major species in the pool and outflow terrace, respectively. Elemental sulfur concentration reached a maximum at the terrace. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA genes from metagenomic sequencing revealed the dominance of Sulfurihydrogenibium at all sites and an increased archaeal population at the rim and outflow channel. Several phylotypes were found closely related to known sulfur- and sulfide-oxidizers, as well as sulfur- and sulfate-reducers. Bioinformatic analysis revealed genes underpinning sulfur redox transformations, consistent with sulfur speciation data, and illustrating a microbial role in sulfur-dependent transformation of arsenite to thioarsenate. Metagenomic analysis also revealed genes encoding for arsenate reductase at all sites, reflecting the ubiquity of thioarsenate and a need for microbial arsenate resistance despite anoxic conditions. Absence of the arsenite oxidase gene, aio, at all sites suggests prioritization of arsenite detoxification over coupling to energy conservation. Finally, detection of methyl arsenic in the outflow channel, in conjunction with increased sequences from Aquificaceae, supports a role for methyltransferase in thermophilic arsenic resistance. Our study highlights microbial contributions to coupled arsenic and sulfur cycling at Champagne Pool, with implications for understanding the evolution of microbial arsenic resistance in sulfidic geothermal systems.
PMCID: PMC4220137  PMID: 25414696
arsenic speciation; thioarsenate; microbial diversity; hot springs; microbial arsenic resistance; sulfur cycling; Champagne Pool; New Zealand
2.  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
3.  Complete Genome Sequence of Beijerinckia indica subsp. indica▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(17):4532-4533.
Beijerinckia indica subsp. indica is an aerobic, acidophilic, exopolysaccharide-producing, N2-fixing soil bacterium. It is a generalist chemoorganotroph that is phylogenetically closely related to facultative and obligate methanotrophs of the genera Methylocella and Methylocapsa. Here we report the full genome sequence of this bacterium.
PMCID: PMC2937395  PMID: 20601475
4.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Aerobic Facultative Methanotroph Methylocella silvestris BL2▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(14):3840-3841.
Methylocella silvestris BL2 is an aerobic methanotroph originally isolated from an acidic forest soil in Germany. It is the first fully authenticated facultative methanotroph. It grows not only on methane and other one-carbon (C1) substrates, but also on some compounds containing carbon-carbon bonds, such as acetate, pyruvate, propane, and succinate. Here we report the full genome sequence of this bacterium.
PMCID: PMC2897342  PMID: 20472789
5.  Encapsulated in silica: genome, proteome and physiology of the thermophilic bacterium Anoxybacillus flavithermus WK1 
Genome Biology  2008;9(11):R161.
Sequencing of the complete genome of Anoxybacillus flavithermus reveals enzymes that are required for silica adaptation and biofilm formation.
Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Anoxybacillus have been found in diverse thermophilic habitats, such as geothermal hot springs and manure, and in processed foods such as gelatin and milk powder. Anoxybacillus flavithermus is a facultatively anaerobic bacterium found in super-saturated silica solutions and in opaline silica sinter. The ability of A. flavithermus to grow in super-saturated silica solutions makes it an ideal subject to study the processes of sinter formation, which might be similar to the biomineralization processes that occurred at the dawn of life.
We report here the complete genome sequence of A. flavithermus strain WK1, isolated from the waste water drain at the Wairakei geothermal power station in New Zealand. It consists of a single chromosome of 2,846,746 base pairs and is predicted to encode 2,863 proteins. In silico genome analysis identified several enzymes that could be involved in silica adaptation and biofilm formation, and their predicted functions were experimentally validated in vitro. Proteomic analysis confirmed the regulation of biofilm-related proteins and crucial enzymes for the synthesis of long-chain polyamines as constituents of silica nanospheres.
Microbial fossils preserved in silica and silica sinters are excellent objects for studying ancient life, a new paleobiological frontier. An integrated analysis of the A. flavithermus genome and proteome provides the first glimpse of metabolic adaptation during silicification and sinter formation. Comparative genome analysis suggests an extensive gene loss in the Anoxybacillus/Geobacillus branch after its divergence from other bacilli.
PMCID: PMC2614493  PMID: 19014707
6.  Complete genome sequence of the extremely acidophilic methanotroph isolate V4, Methylacidiphilum infernorum, a representative of the bacterial phylum Verrucomicrobia 
Biology Direct  2008;3:26.
The phylum Verrucomicrobia is a widespread but poorly characterized bacterial clade. Although cultivation-independent approaches detect representatives of this phylum in a wide range of environments, including soils, seawater, hot springs and human gastrointestinal tract, only few have been isolated in pure culture. We have recently reported cultivation and initial characterization of an extremely acidophilic methanotrophic member of the Verrucomicrobia, strain V4, isolated from the Hell's Gate geothermal area in New Zealand. Similar organisms were independently isolated from geothermal systems in Italy and Russia.
We report the complete genome sequence of strain V4, the first one from a representative of the Verrucomicrobia. Isolate V4, initially named "Methylokorus infernorum" (and recently renamed Methylacidiphilum infernorum) is an autotrophic bacterium with a streamlined genome of ~2.3 Mbp that encodes simple signal transduction pathways and has a limited potential for regulation of gene expression. Central metabolism of M. infernorum was reconstructed almost completely and revealed highly interconnected pathways of autotrophic central metabolism and modifications of C1-utilization pathways compared to other known methylotrophs. The M. infernorum genome does not encode tubulin, which was previously discovered in bacteria of the genus Prosthecobacter, or close homologs of any other signature eukaryotic proteins. Phylogenetic analysis of ribosomal proteins and RNA polymerase subunits unequivocally supports grouping Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia and Chlamydiae into a single clade, the PVC superphylum, despite dramatically different gene content in members of these three groups. Comparative-genomic analysis suggests that evolution of the M. infernorum lineage involved extensive horizontal gene exchange with a variety of bacteria. The genome of M. infernorum shows apparent adaptations for existence under extremely acidic conditions including a major upward shift in the isoelectric points of proteins.
The results of genome analysis of M. infernorum support the monophyly of the PVC superphylum. M. infernorum possesses a streamlined genome but seems to have acquired numerous genes including those for enzymes of methylotrophic pathways via horizontal gene transfer, in particular, from Proteobacteria.
This article was reviewed by John A. Fuerst, Ludmila Chistoserdova, and Radhey S. Gupta.
PMCID: PMC2474590  PMID: 18593465

Results 1-6 (6)