Diverse respiratory capacity among Thermus strains from US Great Basin hot springs

  • En-Min Zhou
  • Arinola L. Adegboruwa
  • Chrisabelle C. Mefferd
  • Shrikant S. Bhute
  • Senthil K. Murugapiran
  • Jeremy A. Dodsworth
  • Scott C. Thomas
  • Amanda J. Bengtson
  • Lan Liu
  • Wen-Dong Xian
  • Wen-Jun LiEmail author
  • Brian P. HedlundEmail author
SPECIAL FEATURE: ORIGINAL PAPER 12th International Congress on Extremophiles
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 12th International Congress on Extremophiles


Thermus species are thermophilic heterotrophs, with most capable of using a variety of organic and inorganic electron donors for respiration. Here, a combined cultivation-independent and -dependent approach was used to explore the diversity of Thermus in Great Boiling Spring (GBS) and Little Hot Creek (LHC) in the US Great Basin. A cultivation-independent 16S rRNA gene survey of ten LHC sites showed that Thermus made up 0–3.5% of sequences and were predominately Thermus thermophilus. 189 Thermus isolates from GBS and LHC were affiliated with T. aquaticus (73.0%), T. oshimai (25.4%), T. sediminis (1.1%), and T. thermophilus (0.5%), with T. aquaticus and T. oshimai forming biogeographic clusters. 22 strains were selected for characterization, including chemolithotrophic oxidation of thiosulfate and arsenite, and reduction of ferric iron, polysulfide, and nitrate, revealing phenotypic diversity and broad respiratory capability within each species. PCR demonstrated the wide distribution of aerobic arsenite oxidase genes. A GBS sediment metaproteome contained sulfite oxidase and Fe3+ ABC transporter permease peptides, suggesting sulfur and iron transformations in situ. This study expands our knowledge of the physiological diversity of Thermus, suggesting widespread chemolithotrophic and anaerobic respiration phenotypes, and providing a foundation for better understanding the ecology of this genus in thermal ecosystems.


Thermus Great Basin Great Boiling Spring Little Hot Creek Respiratory capacity 



Little Hot Creek


Great Boiling Spring



We thank the National Forest Service (Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Lakes Office) for permission to sample Little Hot Creek and David and Sandy Jamieson for gracious support and access to Great Boiling Spring. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31600103 and 31470139), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M602569), and National Science Foundation grants (OISE-0968421 and DBI-1005223). Wen-Jun Li was also supported by Guangdong Province Higher Vocational Colleges and Schools Pearl River Scholar Funded Scheme (2014). B.P. Hedlund was also funded by a gift from Greg Fullmer through the UNLV Foundation.

Author Contributions

EMZ, WJL and BPH conceived and designed the experiments; EMZ, JAD, SKM collected the samples; EMZ, ALA, CCM, SSB, AJW, LL, and WDX performed the experiments and analyzed the data; JAD, SCT, ALA, BPH, and WJL supervised the experiment. All authors assisted in writing the manuscript, discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

792_2019_1131_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (29 kb)
Supplementary file1 (XLSX 28 kb)
792_2019_1131_MOESM2_ESM.docx (393 kb)
Supplementary file2 (DOCX 393 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • En-Min Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Arinola L. Adegboruwa
    • 3
  • Chrisabelle C. Mefferd
    • 3
  • Shrikant S. Bhute
    • 3
  • Senthil K. Murugapiran
    • 3
  • Jeremy A. Dodsworth
    • 4
  • Scott C. Thomas
    • 3
  • Amanda J. Bengtson
    • 3
    • 5
  • Lan Liu
    • 2
  • Wen-Dong Xian
    • 2
  • Wen-Jun Li
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brian P. Hedlund
    • 3
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Resource Environment and Earth ScienceYunnan UniversityKunmingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, School of Life SciencesSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversitySan BernardinoUSA
  5. 5.SWCA Environmental ConsultantsRenoUSA
  6. 6.Nevada Institute of Personalized MedicineUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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