A hyperthermophilic deep-sea methanogen, Methanocaldococcus strain JH146, was isolated from 26°C hydrothermal fluid at Axial Volcano to model high temperature methanogenesis in the subseafloor. Emphasis was placed on defining growth kinetics, cell yields and growth energy demand (GE) across a range of conditions. The organism uses H2 and CO2 as its sole carbon and energy sources. At various temperatures, pHs, and chlorinities, its growth rates and cell yields co-varied while GE remained uniform at 1.69 × 10(-11) J cell(-1)s(-1) ± 0.68 × 10(-11) J cell(-1)s(-1) (s.d., n = 23). An exception was at superoptimal growth temperatures where GE increased to 7.25 × 10(-11) J cell(-1)s(-1) presumably due to heat shock. GE also increased from 5.1 × 10(-12) J cell(-1)s(-1) to 7.61 × 10(-11) J cell(-1)s(-1) as NH4 (+) concentrations decreased from 9.4 mM to 0.14 mM. JH146 did not fix N2 or assimilate NO3 (-), lacked the N2-fixing (cluster II) nifH gene, and became nitrogen limited below 0.14 mM NH4Cl. Nitrogen availability may impact growth in situ since ammonia concentrations at Axial Volcano are < 18 μM. Our approach contributes to refining bioenergetic and carbon flux models for methanogens and other organisms in hydrothermal vents and other environments.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.