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J Bacteriol. 1972 Feb;109(2):707-15.

Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicus sp. n., an anaerobic, autotrophic, extreme thermophile.


The isolation of a new methanogenic bacterium, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicus sp. n., is described. Successful isolation required a medium containing inorganic salts, an atmosphere consisting of an 80:20 mixture of hydrogen-carbon dioxide, and incubation temperatures of 65 to 70 C. Isolates of M. thermoautotrophicus were gram-positive, nonmotile, irregularly curved rods which frequently formed long filaments. The organism was found to be an autotroph and a strict anaerobe, and to have a pH optimum of 7.2 to 7.6. The optimal temperature for growth was 65 to 70 C, the maximum being 75 C and the minimum about 40 C. The generation time at the optimum was about 5 hr. The deoxyribonucleic acid of M. thermoautotrophicus had a guanine plus cytosine (GC) content of 52 moles per cent, whereas Methanobacterium sp. strain M.O.H. had a GC content of 38%. When heated, intact ribosomes of Methanobacterium sp. strain M.O.H. were stable up to 55 C and had a T(m) of 73 C. In contrast, ribosomes of M. thermoautotrophicus were stable up to 75 C and had a T(m) of 82 C. Upon complete thermal denaturation, ribosomes of strain M.O.H. underwent a 59% hyperchromic shift, whereas those of the thermophile showed only a 20% increase in hyperchromicity. Methane formation in cell-free extracts of M. thermoautotrophicus was temperature-dependent and required hydrogen and carbon dioxide; methyl cobalamin served as a methyl donor, and addition of coenzyme M stimulated methanogenesis.

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