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Stand Genomic Sci. 2011 Apr 29; 4(2): 123–130.
Published online 2011 Apr 29. doi:  10.4056/sigs.1393494
PMCID: PMC3111998

Complete genome sequence of Arthrobacter phenanthrenivorans type strain (Sphe3)


Arthrobacter phenanthrenivorans is the type species of the genus, and is able to metabolize phenanthrene as a sole source of carbon and energy. A. phenanthrenivorans is an aerobic, non-motile, and Gram-positive bacterium, exhibiting a rod-coccus growth cycle which was originally isolated from a creosote polluted site in Epirus, Greece. Here we describe the features of this organism, together with the complete genome sequence, and annotation.

Keywords: Arthrobacter, dioxygenases, PAH biodegradation, phenanthrene degradation


Strain Sphe3T (=DSM 18606T = LMG 23796T) is the type strain of Arthrobacter phenanthrenivorans [1]. It was isolated from Perivleptos, a creosote polluted site in Epirus, Greece (12 Km North of the city of Ioannina), where a wood preserving industry was operating for over 30 years [2]. Strain Sphe3T is of particular interest because it is able to metabolize phenanthrene at concentrations of up to 400 mg/L as a sole source of carbon and energy, at rates faster than those reported for other Arthrobacter species [3-5]. It appears to internalize phenanthrene with two mechanisms: a passive diffusion when cells are grown on glucose, and an inducible active transport system, when cells are grown on phenanthrene as a sole carbon source [2]. Here we present a summary classification and a set of features for A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T, together with the description of the complete genome sequencing and annotation.

Classification and features

Figure 1 shows the phylogenetic neighborhood of A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T in a 16S rRNA based tree.

Figure 1
Phylogenetic tree highlighting the position of A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T relative to the other type strains within the family. Numbers above branches are support values from 100 bootstrap replicates.

Strain Sphe3T is a Gram-positive, aerobic, non-motile bacterium exhibiting a rod-coccus cycle (Figure 2), with a cell size of approximately 1.0-1.5 x 2.5-4.0 μm. Colonies were slightly yellowish on Luria agar. The temperature range was 40-37oC with optimum growth at 30-37oC. The pH range was 6.5-8.5 with optimal growth at pH 7.0-7.5 (Table 1). Strain Sphe3T was found to be sensitive to various antibiotics, the minimal inhibitory concentrations of which were estimated as follows: ampicillin 20 mgL-1, chloramphenicol 10 mgL-1, erythromycin 10 mgL-1, neomycin 20 mgL-1, rifampicin 10 mgL-1 and tetracycline 10 mgL-1.

Figure 2
Scanning electron micrograph of A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T
Table 1
Classification and general features of A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T according to the MIGS recommendations [6]

Amylase, catalase and nitrate reductase tests were positive, whereas arginine dihydrolase, gelatinase, lipase, lysine and ornithine decarboxylase, oxidase, urease, citrate assimilation and H2S production tests were negative. No acid was produced in the presence of glucose, lactose and sucrose.


Menaquinones are the sole respiratory lipoquinones of A. phenanthrenivorans strain Sphe3T. Both MK-8 and MK-9(H2) are present in a ratio of 3.6:1, respectively. Major fatty acids are anteiso-C15:0 (36.2%), iso-C16:0 (15.7%), iso-C15:0 (14.3%), anteiso-C17:0 (12.0%), C16:0 (8.3%), iso-C17:0 (4.0%), C16:1ω7c (2.5%) and C14:0 (1.4%). The major phospholipids were diphospatidylglycerol (DPG), phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), (63.8, 27.5 and 4.0% respectively).

Genome sequencing and annotation

Genome project history

This organism was selected for sequencing on the basis of its biodegradation capabilities, i.e. metabolizes phenanthrene as a sole source of carbon and energy. The genome project is deposited in the Genome OnLine Database [18] and the complete genome sequence is deposited in GenBank. Sequencing, finishing and annotation were performed by the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI). A summary of the project information is shown in Table 2.

Table 2
Genome sequencing project information

Growth conditions and DNA isolation

A. phenanthrenivorans Sphe3T, DSM 18606T was grown aerobically at 30°C on MM M9 containing 0.02% (w/v) phenanthrene. DNA was isolated according to the standard JGI (CA, USA) protocol for Bacterial genomic DNA isolation using CTAB.

Genome sequencing and assembly

The genome of Arthrobacter phenanthrenivorans type strain (Sphe3)was sequenced using a combination of Sanger and 454 sequencing platforms. All general aspects of library construction and sequencing can be found at the JGI website [19]. Pyrosequencing reads were assembled using the Newbler assembler version (Roche). Large Newbler contigs were broken into 4,967 overlapping fragments of 1,000 bp and entered into assembly as pseudo-reads. The sequences were assigned quality scores based on Newbler consensus q-scores with modifications to account for overlap redundancy and to adjust inflated q-scores. A hybrid 454/Sanger assembly was made using the Arachne assembler [20]. Possible mis-assemblies were corrected and gaps between contigs were closed by by editing in Consed, by custom primer walks from sub-clones or PCR products. A total of 822 Sanger finishing reads were produced to close gaps, to resolve repetitive regions, and to raise the quality of the finished sequence. The error rate of the completed genome sequence is less than 1 in 100,000. Together, the combination of the Sanger and 454 sequencing platforms provided 26.78 x coverage of the genome. The final assembly contains 44,113 Sanger reads and 599,557 pyrosequencing reads.

Genome annotation

Genes were identified using Prodigal [21] as part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory genome annotation pipeline, followed by a round of manual curation using the JGI GenePRIMP pipeline [22]. The predicted CDSs were translated and used to search the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) nonredundant database, UniProt, TIGR-Fam, Pfam, PRIAM, KEGG, COG, and InterPro databases. Additional gene prediction analysis and functional annotation were performed within the Integrated Microbial Genomes - Expert Review (IMG-ER) platform [23].

Genome properties

The genome consists of a 4,250,414 bp long chromosome with a GC content of 66% and two plasmids both with 62% GC content, the larger being 190,450 bp long and the smaller 94,456 bp (Table 3, Figure 3 and Figure 4). Of the 4,288 genes predicted, 4,212 were protein-coding genes, and 76 RNAs; 77 pseudogenes were also identified. The majority of the protein-coding genes (73.8%) were assigned with a putative function while the remaining ones were annotated as hypothetical proteins. The distribution of genes into COGs functional categories is presented in Table 4.

Table 3
Genome Statistics
Figure 3
Graphical circular map of the chromosome, not drawn to scale with plasmids. From outside to the center: Genes on forward strand (color by COG categories), Genes on reverse strand (color by COG categories), RNA genes (tRNAs green, rRNAs red, other RNAs ...
Figure 4
The two plasmids, not drawn to scale with chromosome. From outside to the center: Genes on forward strand (color by COG categories), Genes on reverse strand (color by COG categories), RNA genes (tRNAs green, rRNAs red, other RNAs black), GC content, GC ...
Table 4
Number of genes associated with the general COG functional categories


This work was supported by the program “Pythagoras II” of EPEAEK with 25% National Funds and 75% European Social Funds (ESF). NCK is supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Program, and by the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344, and Los Alamos National Laboratory under contract No. DE-AC02-06NA25396.


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