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Phenotypic and molecular identification of Cellulosimicrobium cellulans isolated from Antarctic snow


We report for the first time the isolation of Cellulosimicrobium cellulans from Antarctic snow. This strain demonstrated physiological traits that were markedly different from that of the mesophilic C. cellulans type strain DSM 43879T. The dominant cell wall sugars in C. cellulans were glucose, galactose and mannitol whereas rhamnose was the only major sugar in the type strain. Cellular fatty acid patterns were dominated by 12-methyltetradecanoic acid (ai-C15:0), hexadecanoic acid (C16:0) and 14-methylhexadecanoic acid (ai-C17:0) but lacked iso fatty acids unlike the type strain. The ability of C. cellulans to survive in Antarctic snow could be due to these modified physiological properties that distinguish it from its mesophilic counterpart. Carbon utilization studies demonstrated that C. cellulans preferred complex carbon substrates over simple ones suggesting that it could play a potential role in carbon uptake in snow. Our study shows that this genus could be more cosmopolitan than hitherto thought of and is capable of living in extreme cold environments.

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The authors are thankful to the Director NCAOR, Goa and Director RGCB, Trivandrum, for their encouragement and support. We are grateful to Dr. P. S. Parameswaran and Divya Shridhar of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa for their help in cell wall sugar and quinone analysis. We thank Dr. Lisette D’Souza, NIO for helping us with the MS/MS analyses and Dr. B. G. Naik, NIO for GC/MS analysis. Thanks are also due to Dr. Rahul Mohan of NCAOR for SEM study. We also acknowledge the services of National Institute of Oceanography, RC Cochin for whole cell fatty acid analysis. The authors are grateful to the Editors Dr. J. T. Trevors and Dr. P. A. Hoskisson and an anonymous reviewer for the insightful suggestions and critical evaluation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Runa Antony.

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Antony, R., Krishnan, K.P., Thomas, S. et al. Phenotypic and molecular identification of Cellulosimicrobium cellulans isolated from Antarctic snow. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 96, 627–634 (2009).

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  • Cellulosimicrobium
  • Antarctica
  • Snow
  • Carbon utilization
  • Cold adaptation