Among the Microbacteriaceae the species of Subtercola and Agreia form closely associated clusters. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated three major phylogenetic branches of these species. One of these branches contains the two psychrophilic species Subtercola frigoramans and Subtercola vilae, together with a larger number of isolates from various cold environments. Genomic evidence supports the separation of Agreia and Subtercola species. In order to gain insight into the ability of S. vilae to adapt to life in this extreme environment, we analyzed the genome with a particular focus on properties related to possible adaptation to a cold environment. General properties of the genome are presented, including carbon and energy metabolism, as well as secondary metabolite production. The repertoire of genes in the genome of S. vilae DB165T linked to adaptations to the harsh conditions found in Llullaillaco Volcano Lake includes several mechanisms to transcribe proteins under low temperatures, such as a high number of tRNAs and cold shock proteins. In addition, S. vilae DB165T is capable of producing a number of proteins to cope with oxidative stress, which is of particular relevance at low temperature environments, in which reactive oxygen species are more abundant. Most important, it obtains capacities to produce cryo-protectants, and to combat against ice crystal formation, it produces ice-binding proteins. Two new ice-binding proteins were identified which are unique to S. vilae DB165T. These results indicate that S. vilae has the capacity to employ different mechanisms to live under the extreme and cold conditions prevalent in Llullaillaco Volcano Lake.
Keywords: Llullaillaco Volcano; Subtercola vilae; cold adaptation; genome analysis; systematic affiliation.