Microbial Life in the Deep Sea: Psychropiezophiles

  • Yuichi NogiEmail author


Psychropiezophiles are microorganisms specialized for living in the deep-sea environment. Piezophiles display maximum growth at high pressure. Some can also grow at atmospheric pressure; those that cannot are referred to as obligatory piezophiles. A temperature change affects deep-sea psychropiezophiles more than a pressure change. Therefore, sample collection and cultivation temperature should be kept low. The preferred method for the long-term preservation and storage of psychropiezophiles is freezing in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen. Initially, cultures of deep-sea psychropiezophilic bacteria were only species affiliated with one of five genera within the Gammaproteobacteria subgroup: Shewanella, Photobacterium, Colwellia, Moritella, and Psychromonas. However, more recently, species classified as Alphaproteobacteria and Firmicutes have also been found. The genome of several of these bacteria has been analyzed, which revealed characteristic features of these microorganisms. Psychropiezophiles contain unsaturated fatty acids in their cell membrane layers, but the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, is not obligatory for growth under high pressure. In the future, along with the development of culture methods and isolation techniques, a variety of other psychropiezophilic species will be discovered and the relationship between pressure and growth of psychropiezophiles will be clarified.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and Development Center for Marine BiosciencesJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokosukaJapan

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