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Res Microbiol. 2008 Jun;159(5):390-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2008.04.015. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Virus-like vesicles and extracellular DNA produced by hyperthermophilic archaea of the order Thermococcales.

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  • 1Univ Paris-Sud, Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, CNRS, UMR 8621, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France.


Cultures of hyperthermophilic archaea (order Thermococcales) have been analyzed by electron microscopy and epifluorescence staining for the presence of virus-like particles. We found that most strains of Thermococcus and Pyrococcus produce various types of spherical membrane vesicles and unusual filamentous structures. Cellular DNA can be strongly associated with vesicles and appears as fluorescent dots by epifluorescence microscopy, suggesting that some particles assumed to be viruses in ecological studies might instead be vesicles associated with extracellular DNA. DNA in vesicle preparations is remarkably resistant to DNase treatment and thermodenaturation, indicating that association with vesicles could be an important factor determining DNA stability in natural environments.

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