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Environ Microbiol. 2008 Mar;10(3):810-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01506.x. Epub 2008 Jan 19.

Cultivation of a thermophilic ammonia oxidizing archaeon synthesizing crenarchaeol.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-2700, USA.


The widespread occurrence and diversity of ammonia oxidizing Archaea suggests their contribution to the nitrogen cycle is of global significance. Their distribution appeared limited to low- and moderate-temperature environments until the recent finding of a diagnostic membrane lipid, crenarchaeol, in terrestrial hot springs. We report here the cultivation of a thermophilic nitrifier ('Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii'), an autotrophic crenarchaeote growing up to 74 degrees C by aerobic ammonia oxidation. The major core lipid of this archaeon growing at 72 degrees C is crenarchaeol, providing the first direct evidence for its synthesis by a thermophile. These findings greatly extend the upper temperature limit of nitrification and document that the capacity for ammonia oxidation is broadly distributed among the Crenarchaeota.

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