The occurrence of thermophilic, halophilic anaerobic bacteria in the sediment of a Tunisian salted lake was tested in samples collected at 20-cm intervals down to a depth of 1.20 m. A long rod, present only in the 40-to 60-cm layer, was isolated at 60°C in a medium containing 100 g of NaCl per liter and designated strain H168. This strain produced acetate, ethanol, H, and CO from glucose metabolism. Fructose, xylose, ribose, cellobiose, and starch were also oxidized. The optimum temperature for growth was 60°C. No growth was obtained at 42 or 70°C. Strain H168 grew optimally in NaCl concentrations ranging from 50 to 100 g per liter, with the upper and lower limits of growth around 200 and 40 g per liter, respectively. The G+C ratio of the DNA was 39.6 mol %. Although halophilic, moderately thermophilic bacteria have been characterized among anaerobes, particularly within methanogens, strain H168 is the first true thermophilic (growing above 60°C) halophilic anaerobic bacterium described so far. The phylogeny, physiology, morphology, lipid content, and high G+C content of strain H168 are sufficiently different from those of genera belonging to the family to justify the definition of a new genus.


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