, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 85-96
Date: 18 Jan 2006

Recent developments in the thermophilic microbiology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents

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Abstract

The diversity of thermophilic prokaryotes inhabiting deep-sea hot vents was actively studied over the last two decades. The ever growing interest is reflected in the exponentially increasing number of novel thermophilic genera described. The goal of this paper is to survey the progress in this field made in the years 2000–2005. In this period, representatives of several new taxa of hyperthermophilic archaea were obtained from deep-sea environments. Two of these isolates had phenotypic features new for this group of organisms: the presence of an outer cell membrane (the genus Ignicoccus) and the ability to grow anaerobically with acetate and ferric iron (the genus Geoglobus). Also, our knowledge on the diversity of thermophilic bacteria from deep-sea thermal environments extended significantly. The new bacterial isolates represented diverse bacterial divisions: the phylum Aquificae, the subclass Epsilonproteobacteria, the order Thermotogales, the families Thermodesulfobacteriaceae, Deferribacteraceae, and Thermaceae, and a novel bacterial phylum represented by the genus Caldithrix. Most of these isolates are obligate or facultative lithotrophs, oxidizing molecular hydrogen in the course of different types of anaerobic respiration or microaerobic growth. The existence and significant ecological role of some of new bacterial thermophilic isolates was initially established by molecular methods.

Communicated by D. Cowan