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Appl Environ Microbiol. May 1984; 47(5): 971–978.
PMCID: PMC240030

Methanosarcina acetivorans sp. nov., an Acetotrophic Methane-Producing Bacterium Isolated from Marine Sediments


A new acetotrophic marine methane-producing bacterium that was isolated from the methane-evolving sediments of a marine canyon is described. Exponential phase cultures grown with sodium acetate contained irregularly shaped cocci that aggregated in the early stationary phase and finally differentiated into communal cysts that released individual cocci when ruptured or transferred to fresh medium. The irregularly shaped cocci (1.9 ± 0.2 mm in diameter) were gram negative and occurred singly or in pairs. Cells were nonmotile, but possessed a single fimbria-like structure. Micrographs of thin sections showed a monolayered cell wall approximately 10 nm thick that consisted of protein subunits. The cells in aggregates were separated by visible septation. The communal cysts contained several single cocci encased in a common envelope. An amorphous form of the communal cyst that had incomplete septation and internal membrane-like vesicles was also present in late exponential phase cultures. Sodium acetate, methanol, methylamine, dimethylamine, and trimethylamine were substrates for growth and methanogenesis; H2-CO2 (80:20) and sodium formate were not. The optimal growth temperature was 35 to 40°C. The optimal pH range was 6.5 to 7.0. Both NaCl and Mg2+ were required for growth, with maximum growth rates at 0.2 M NaCl and 0.05 M MgSO4. The DNA base composition was 41 ± 1% guanine plus cytosine. Methanosarcina acetivorans is the proposed species. C2A is the type strain (DSM 2834, ATCC 35395).

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