Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 160, Issue 6, pp 461–470 | Cite as

Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi nov. gen., nov. sp.: variable-diameter composite spirochete from microbial mats

  • Richardo Guerrero
  • Jon Ashen
  • Mónica Solé
  • Lynn Margulis
Original Papers


Large (up to 100 μm long), loosely coiled, free-living spirochetes with variable diameters (from 0.4 to 3 μm in the same cell) were seen at least 40 times between August 1990 and January 1993. These spirochetes were observed in mud water and enrichment media from highly specific habitats in intertidal evaporite flats at three disjunct localities, one in Spain and two in Mexico. All three are sites of commerical saltworks. Associated with Microcoleus chthonoplastes, the large spirochetes from Spain display phototaxis and a composite organization. Shorter and smaller-diameter spirochetes are seen inside both healthy and spent periplasm of larger ones. Small spirochetes attached to large ones have been observed live. From two to twelve spirochete protoplasmic cylinders were seen inside a single common outer membrane. A distinctive granulated cytoplasm in which the granules are of similar diameter (20–32 nm) to that of the flagella (26 nm) was present. Granule diameters were measured in thin section and in negatively-stained whole-mount preparations. Based on their ultrastructure, large size, variable diameter, number of flagella (3 to 6), and phototactic behavior these unique spirochetes are formally named Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi. Under anoxic (or low oxygen) conditions they formed blooms in mixed culture in media selective for spirochetes. Cellobiose was the major carbon source in 80% seawater, the antibiotic rifampicin was added, mat from the original field site was present and tubes were incubated in the light at from 18–31 °C. Within 1–2 weeks populations of the large spirochete developed at 25 °C but they could not be transferred to fresh medium.

Key words

Borrelia Composite spirochetes Cristispira Granulated cytoplasm Hollandina Phototactic spirochetes Microcoleus chthonoplastes Pillotaceae Spirochete morphometrics Spirochete ultrastructure Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richardo Guerrero
    • 1
  • Jon Ashen
    • 2
  • Mónica Solé
    • 3
  • Lynn Margulis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Morrill Science CenterUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyAutonomous University of MadridMadridSpain

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