Thermococcus marinus sp. nov. and Thermococcus radiotolerans sp. nov., two hyperthermophilic archaea from deep-sea hydrothermal vents that resist ionizing radiation

Extremophiles. 2004 Jun;8(3):219-27. doi: 10.1007/s00792-004-0380-9. Epub 2004 Feb 27.


Enrichments for anaerobic, organotrophic hyperthermophiles were performed with hydrothermal chimney samples collected from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at a depth of 3,550 m (23 degrees 22'N, 44 degrees 57'W) and the Guaymas Basin (27 degrees 01'N, 111 degrees 24'W) at a depth of 2,616 m. Positive enrichments were submitted to gamma-irradiation at doses of 20 and 30 kGy. Two hyperthermophilic, anaerobic, sulfur-metabolizing archaea were isolated. Strain EJ1T was isolated from chimney samples collected from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge after gamma-irradiation at 20 kGy, and strain EJ2T was isolated from the Guaymas Basin after gamma-irradiation at 30 kGy. Only strain EJ2T was motile, and both formed regular cocci. These new strains grew between 55 and 95 degrees C with the optimal temperature being 88 degrees C. The optimal pH for growth was 6.0, and the optimal NaCl concentration for growth was around 20 g l(-1). These strains were obligate anaerobic heterotrophs that utilized yeast extract, tryptone, and peptone as a carbon source for growth. Ten amino acids were essential for the growth of strain EJ1), such as arginine, aspartic acid, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, threonine, tyrosine, and valine, while strain EJ2T was unable to grow on a mixture of amino acids. Elemental sulfur or cystine was required for EJ2T growth and was reduced to hydrogen sulfide. Rifampicin inhibited growth for both strains EJ1T and EJ2T. The G + C contents of the genomic DNA were 52.3 and 54.5 mol% for EJ1T and EJ2T, respectively. As determined by 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis, these strains were more closely related to Thermococcus gorgonarius, T. celer, T. guaymasensis, T. profundus, and T. hydrothermalis. However, no significant homology was observed between them with DNA-DNA hybridization. These novel organisms also possess phenotypic traits that differ from those of its closest phylogenetic relatives. Therefore, it is proposed that these isolates, which are amongst the most radioresistant hyperthermophilic archaea known to date with T. gammatolerans (Jolivet et al. 2003a), should be described as novel species T. marinus sp. nov. and T. radiotolerans sp. nov. The type strain of T. marinus is strain EJ1T (= DSM 15227T = JCM 11825T) and the type strain of T. radiotolerans is strain EJ2T (= DSM 15228T = JCM 11826T).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • DNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Drug Resistance
  • Gamma Rays
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Seawater / microbiology
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Species Specificity
  • Thermococcus / classification
  • Thermococcus / genetics
  • Thermococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Thermococcus / radiation effects*


  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Sodium Chloride

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF479012
  • GENBANK/AF479013