Diverse Respiratory Capacity Amoung Thermus Strains from US Great Basin Hot Springs

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Thermus species are thermophilic heterotrophs, with most capable of using a variety of organic and inorganic electron donors for respiration. Here, a combined cultivation-independent and -dependent approach was used to explore the diversity of Thermus in Great Boiling Spring (GBS) and Little Hot Creek (LHC) in the US Great Basin. A cultivation-independent 16S rRNA gene survey of ten LHC sites showed that Thermus made up 0–3.5% of sequences and were predominately Thermus thermophilus. 189 Thermus isolates from GBS and LHC were affiliated with T. aquaticus (73.0%), T. oshimai (25.4%), T. sediminis (1.1%), and T. thermophilus (0.5%), with T. aquaticus and T. oshimai forming biogeographic clusters. 22 strains were selected for characterization, including chemolithotrophic oxidation of thiosulfate and arsenite, and reduction of ferric iron, polysulfide, and nitrate, revealing phenotypic diversity and broad respiratory capability within each species. PCR demonstrated the wide distribution of aerobic arsenite oxidase genes. A GBS sediment metaproteome contained sulfite oxidase and Fe3+ ABC transporter permease peptides, suggesting sulfur and iron transformations in situ. This study expands our knowledge of the physiological diversity of Thermus, suggesting widespread chemolithotrophic and anaerobic respiration phenotypes, and providing a foundation for better understanding the ecology of this genus in thermal ecosystems.


Thermus; Great Basin; Great Boiling Spring; Little Hot Creek; Respiratory capacity


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology



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