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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Jul;75(13):4580-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00718-09. Epub 2009 May 15.

Metabolic versatility and indigenous origin of the archaeon Thermococcus sibiricus, isolated from a siberian oil reservoir, as revealed by genome analysis.

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  • 1Centre "Bioengineering," Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.


Thermococcus species are widely distributed in terrestrial and marine hydrothermal areas, as well as in deep subsurface oil reservoirs. Thermococcus sibiricus is a hyperthermophilic anaerobic archaeon isolated from a well of the never flooded oil-bearing Jurassic horizon of a high-temperature oil reservoir. To obtain insight into the genome of an archaeon inhabiting the oil reservoir, we have determined and annotated the complete 1,845,800-base genome of T. sibiricus. A total of 2,061 protein-coding genes have been identified, 387 of which are absent in other members of the order Thermococcales. Physiological features and genomic data reveal numerous hydrolytic enzymes (e.g., cellulolytic enzymes, agarase, laminarinase, and lipases) and metabolic pathways, support the proposal of the indigenous origin of T. sibiricus in the oil reservoir, and explain its survival over geologic time and its proliferation in this habitat. Indeed, in addition to proteinaceous compounds known previously to be present in oil reservoirs at limiting concentrations, its growth was stimulated by cellulose, agarose, and triacylglycerides, as well as by alkanes. Two polysaccharide degradation loci were probably acquired by T. sibiricus from thermophilic bacteria following lateral gene transfer events. The first, a "saccharolytic gene island" absent in the genomes of other members of the order Thermococcales, contains the complete set of genes responsible for the hydrolysis of cellulose and beta-linked polysaccharides. The second harbors genes for maltose and trehalose degradation. Considering that agarose and laminarin are components of algae, the encoded enzymes and the substrate spectrum of T. sibiricus indicate the ability to metabolize the buried organic matter from the original oceanic sediment.

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