, Volume 164, Issue 4, pp 255-264

Thermococcus chitonophagus sp. nov., a novel, chitin-degrading, hyperthermophilic archaeum from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent environment

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From a hydrothermal vent site off the Mexican west coast (20°50′N, 109°06′W) at a depth of 2,600 m, a novel, hyperthermophilic, anaerobic archaeum was isolated. Cells were round to slightly irregular cocci, 1.2–2.5 μm in diameter and were motile by means of a tuft of flagella. The new isolate grew between 60 and 93°C (optimum: 85°C), from pH 3.5 to 9 (optimum: pH 6.7), and from 0.8 to 8% NaCl (optimum: 2%). The isolate was an obligate organotroph, using chitin, yeast extract, meat extract, and peptone for growth. Chitin was fermented to H2, CO2, NH3, acetate, and formate. H2S was formed in the presence of sulfur. The chitinoclastic enzyme system was oxygen-stable, cell-associated, and inducible by chitin. The cell wall was composed of a surface layer of hexameric protein complexes arranged on a p6 lattice. The core lipids consisted of glycerol diphytanyl diethers and acyclic and cyclic glycerol diphytanyl tetraethers. The G+C content was 46.5 mol%. DNA/DNA hybridization and 16S rRNA sequencing indicated that the new isolate belongs to the genusThermococcus, representing a new species,Thermococcus chitonophagus. The type strain is isoalte GC74, DSM 10152.