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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2001 Nov;24(3):377-84.

Fatty acid profiles of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria reflect their phylogenetic heterogeneity.

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Abteilung Mikrobiologie, Fachbereich Biologie/Chemie, Universität Osnabrück, Germany.


The fatty acid profiles of all described species of the nitrite-oxidizing genera Nitrobacter, Nitrococcus, Nitrospina and Nitrospira were analyzed. The four genera had distinct profiles, which can be used for the differentiation and allocation of new isolates to these genera. The genus Nitrobacter is characterized by vaccenic acid as the main compound with up to 92% of the fatty acids and the absence of hydroxy fatty acids. The genus Nitrococcus showed cis-9-hexadecenoic acid, hexadecanoic acid and vaccenic acid as main parts. Small amounts of 3-hydroxy-dodecanoic acid were detected. The genus Nitrospina possessed tetradecanoic acid and cis-9-hcxadecenoic acid as main compounds, also 3-hydroxy-hexadecanoic acid was detected for this genus. The genus Nitrospira showed a pattern with more variations among the two described species. These organisms are characterized by the cis-7 and cis-11-isomers of hexadecenoic acid. For Nitrospira moscoviensis a specific new fatty acid was found, which represented the major constituent in the fatty acid profiles of autotrophically grown cultures. It was identified as 11-methyl-hexadecanoic acid. Since this compound is not known for other bacterial taxa, it represents a potential lipid marker for the detection of Nitrospira moscoviensis relatives in enrichment cultures and environmental samples. A cluster analysis of the fatty acid profiles is in accordance with 16S rRNA sequence-based phylogeny of the nitrite-oxidizing bacteria.

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