In the light of the significance of extremophiles as model organisms to access possible extraterrestiral life, we provide a short review of the systematics of thermophilic Archaea, and introduce our exploratory research of novel thermophilic Archaea from hot springs in Japan. Up to date, we have isolated 162 strains of the thermophilic Archaea from hot springs in Japan by the enrichment method or the most probable number/PCR method, and the 16S rRNA gene sequences were determined to reveal their phylogenetic diversity. The sequence comparison illustrated that the isolates belonged to the orders Sulfolobales (117 isolates) , Thermoproteales (29 isolates), Desulfurococcales (8 isolates) and Thermoplasmatales (8 isolates), and there were six separate lineages representing new genera, and at least seven new species as predicted by the phylogenetic distance to known species. The collection of isolates not only included novel taxa but would give some implication for a necessity to reevaluate the current taxonomy of the thermophilic Archaea.
The study of alkaliphilic microbial communities from anaerobic sediments of Owens and Mono Lakes in California has established the presence of active microbial cellulolytic processes in both studied lakes. The prior study of the microbial diversity of anaerobes in Mono Lake showed that the trophic chain of organic decomposition includes secondary anaerobes that previously were found to be unknown species (Spirochaeta americana, Tindallia californiensis, and Desulfonatronum thiodismutans). As we published earlier, the secondary anaerobes of Owens Lake morphologically were found to be very similar to those of Mono Lake. However, detailed comparison of the physiology and genetics has led to the conclusion that some links of organic decomposition in the trophic chain of the Owens Lake community are represented by a different unknown species. A new isolate of a sugarlytics free-living spirochete from Owens Lake ASpC2, which morphologically was similar to S. americana AspG1T isolated from Mono Lake, was found to have a different metabolic capacity such as the lack of capability to produce hydrogen during the fermentation of sugars. Furthermore, from the same microbial community of Owens Lake, another sugarlytics spore-forming alkaliphilic strain SCA was isolated in pure culture and described. Here we discuss the universal structure of the microbial community, types of microbial communities, review some hypothesis about Earth's Primordial Ocean and relevant new discoveries about water on Mars. This paper also presents some of the characteristics of novel isolates from anaerobic sediments of Owens Lake as a unique relic ecosystem of Astrobiological significance, and describes the participation of these strains in the process of cellulose degradation.
Conference Committee Involvement (2)
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
28 August 2007 | San Diego, California, United States
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IX
14 August 2006 | San Diego, California, United States