Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 182, Issue 5, pp 404–413 | Cite as

Composition of the lipids of Nanoarchaeum equitans and their origin from its host Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I

  • Ulrike Jahn
  • Roger Summons
  • Helen Sturt
  • Emmanuelle Grosjean
  • Harald Huber
Original Paper


The contents and nature of the membrane lipids of Nanoarchaeum equitans and Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I, grown at 90°C, and Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I, cultivated at its lowest and highest growth temperatures (75°C and 95°C) were analyzed. Both organisms contained very simple and qualitatively identical assemblages of glycerol ether lipids, showing only differences in the amounts of certain components. LC–MS analyses of the total lipid extracts revealed that archaeol and caldarchaeol were the main core lipids. The predominant polar headgroups consisted of one or more sugar residues attached either directly to the core lipid or via a phosphate group. GC–MS analyses of hydrolyzed total lipid extracts revealed that the co-culture of N. equitans and Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I, as well as Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I grown at 90°C, contained phytane and biphytane in a ratio of approximately 4:1. Purified N. equitans cells and Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I cultivated at 75°C and 95°C had a phytane to biphytane ratio of 10:1. Sugar residues were mainly mannose and small amounts of glucose. Consistent 13C fractionation patterns of isoprenoid chains of N. equitans and its host indicated that the N. equitans lipids were synthesized in the host cells.


Nanoarchaeum equitans Ignicoccus Lipid analysis Intact polar lipids Archaeol Caldarchaeol Glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether 



The authors are grateful to Aurana Lewis for assistance with lipid isolation and analysis, Carolyn Colonero for assistance with isotopic analysis, and to Daniela Näther for preparation of the outer membrane of Ignicoccus sp. strain KIN4/I. Manuela Baumgartner kindly provided biomass from M. jannaschii, M. kandleri and M. fervidus. Dan Repeta (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) kindly provided carbohydrate standards. We thank Yanenk Hebting and Karl O. Stetter for fruitful discussions on the chemistry and microbiology issues encountered in this research. This work was supported by awards from the NASA Exobiology Program (RES) and the NASA Astrobiology Institute RES and by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to HH (Förderkennzeichen HU 703/1-1). Helen Sturt is supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (Subsurface Biospheres Team at the University of Rhode Island), and we are especially grateful to Kai-Uwe Hinrichs and Waters Corporation for access to LC–MS equipment. We thank John Gibson and an anonymous reviewer who made numerous constructive suggestions that improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrike Jahn
    • 1
  • Roger Summons
    • 2
  • Helen Sturt
    • 3
  • Emmanuelle Grosjean
    • 2
  • Harald Huber
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für MikrobiologieUniversität RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  2. 2.MIT EAPSCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geology and GeophysicsWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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