Post-transcriptional modifications of RNA are nearly ubiquitous in the principal RNAs involved in translation. However, in the case of rRNA the functional roles of modification are far less established than for tRNA, and are subject to less knowledge in terms of specific nucleoside identities and their sequence locations. Post-transcriptional modifications have been studied in the SSU rRNA from Thermotoga maritima (optimal growth 80 degrees C), one of the most deeply branched organisms in the Eubacterial phylogenetic tree. A total of 10 different modified nucleosides were found, the greatest number reported for bacterial SSU rRNA, occupying a net of approximately 14 sequence sites, compared with a similar number of sites recently reported for Thermus thermophilus and 11 for Escherichia coli. The relatively large number of modifications in Thermotoga offers modest support for the notion that thermophile rRNAs are more extensively modified than those from mesophiles. Seven of the Thermotoga modified sites are identical (location and identity) to those in E. coli. An unusual derivative of cytidine was found, designated N-330 (Mr 330.117), and was sequenced to position 1404 in the decoding region of the rRNA. It was unexpectedly found to be identical to an earlier reported nucleoside of unknown structure at the same location in the SSU RNA of the archaeal mesophile Haloferax volcanii.