Presence and potential role of thermophilic bacteria in temperate terrestrial environments
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Organic sulfur and nitrogen are major reservoirs of these elements in terrestrial systems, although their cycling remains to be fully understood. Both sulfur and nitrogen mineralization are directly related to microbial metabolism. Mesophiles and thermophiles were isolated from temperate environments. Thermophilic isolates were classified within the Firmicutes, belonging to the Geobacillus, Brevibacillus, and Ureibacillus genera, and showed optimum growth temperatures between 50°C and 60°C. Sulfate and ammonium produced were higher during growth of thermophiles both for isolated strains and natural bacterial assemblages. They were positively related to organic nutrient load. Temperature also affected the release of sulfate and ammonium by thermophiles. Quantitative, real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction on environmental samples indicated that the examined thermophilic Firmicutes represented up to 3.4% of the total bacterial community RNA. Temperature measurements during summer days showed values above 40°C for more than 10 h a day in soils from southern Spain. These results support a potential role of thermophilic bacteria in temperate terrestrial environments by mineralizing organic sulfur and nitrogen ruled by the existence and length of warm periods.
KeywordsThermophiles Firmicutes Sulfate Ammonium Mineralization Temperate soils
This work was supported through projects from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CGL2009-12328/BOS; CSD2009-00006) and the regional governments of Aragón (PM055/2006) and Andalusia (BIO-288). The participation of Feder funds in these projects is acknowledged.
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