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Arch Microbiol. 1997 Dec;168(6):493-503.

Analysis of 16S rRNA and methane monooxygenase gene sequences reveals a novel group of thermotolerant and thermophilic methanotrophs, Methylocaldum gen. nov.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.


Two methanotrophic bacteria with optimum growth temperatures above 40 degrees C were isolated. Thermotolerant strain LK6 was isolated from agricultural soil, and the moderately thermophilic strain OR2 was isolated from the effluent of an underground hot spring. When compared to the described thermophilic methanotrophs Methylococcus capsulatus and Methylococcus thermophilus, these strains are phenotypically similar to Methylococcus thermophilus. However, their 16S rRNA gene sequences are markedly different from the sequence of Methylococcus thermophilus ( approximately 8% divergence) and, together with Methylomonas gracilis, they form a distinct, new genus within the gamma-subgroup of the Proteobacteria related to extant Type I methanotrophs. Further phenotypic characterisation showed that the isolates possess particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO) but do not contain soluble methane monooxygenase. The nucleotide sequence of a gene encoding pMMO (pmoA) was determined for both isolates and for Methylomonas gracilis. PmoA sequence comparisons confirmed the monophyletic nature of this newly recognised group of thermophilic methanotrophs and their relationship to previously described Type I methanotrophs. We propose that strains OR2 and LK6, together with the misclassified thermophilic strains Methylomonas gracilis VKM-14LT and Methylococcus thermophilus IMV-B3122, comprise a new genus of thermophilic methanotrophs, Methylocaldum gen. nov., containing three new species: Methylocaldum szegediense, Methylocaldum tepidum and Methylocaldum gracile.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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