Electron microscopic detection and in situ characterization of bacterial nanoforms in extreme biotopes
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The morphology, ultrastructure, and quantity of bacterial nanoforms were studied in extreme biotopes: East Siberia permafrost soil (1–3 Ma old), petroleum-containing slimes (35 years old), and biofilms from subsurface oil pipelines. The morphology and ultrastructure of microbial cells in natural biotopes in situ were investigated by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and various methods of sample preparation: ultrathin sectioning, cell replicas, and cryofractography. It was shown that the biotopes under study contained high numbers of bacterial nanoforms (29–43% of the total number of microorganisms) that could be assigned to ultramicrobacteria due to their size (diameter of ≤ 0.3 μm and volume of ≤ 0.014 μm3) and structural characteristics (the presence of the outer and cytoplasmic membranes, nucleoid, and cell wall, as well as their division patterns). Seven different morphostructural types of nanoforms of vegetative cells, as well as nanospores and cyst-like cells were described, potentially representing new species of ultramicrobacteria. In petroleum-containing slimes, a peculiar type of nanocells was discovered, gram-negative cells mostly 0.18–0.20 × 0.20–0.30 μm in size, forming in situ spherical aggregates (microcolonies) of dividing cells. The data obtained promoted the isolation of pure cultures of ultramicrobacteria from petroleum-containing slimes; they resembled the ultramicrobacterium observed in situ in their morphology and ultrastructure.
Key wordsnanoforms ultramicrobacteria microorganisms in situ cell ultrastructure extreme biotopes fractionation of microorganisms
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