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ISME J. 2009 Jul;3(7):873-6. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.21. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Pyrococcus CH1, an obligate piezophilic hyperthermophile: extending the upper pressure-temperature limits for life.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Microbiologie des Environnements Extrêmes, CNRS, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Ifremer, IUEM, Technopole Brest-Iroise, Plouzané, France.


A novel hydrothermal site was discovered in March 2007, on the mid-Atlantic ridge during the cruise 'Serpentine'. At a depth of 4100 m, the site 'Ashadze' is the deepest vent field known so far. Smoker samples were collected with the ROV 'Victor 6000' and processed in the laboratory for the enrichment of anaerobic heterotrophic microorganisms under high-temperature and high-hydrostatic pressure conditions. Strain CH1 was successfully isolated and assigned to the genus Pyrococcus, within the Euryarchaeota lineage within the Archaea domain. This organism grows within a temperature range of 80 to 108 degrees C and a pressure range of 20 to 120 MPa, with optima for 98 degrees C and 52 MPa respectively. Pyrococcus CH1 represents the first obligate piezophilic hyperthermophilic microorganism known so far. Comparisons of growth yields obtained under high-temperature/high-pressure conditions for relative organisms isolated from various depths, showed clear relationships between depth at origin and responses to hydrostatic pressure.

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