A new mesophilic, chemolithoautotrophic, sulfur-oxidizing bacterium, strain Milos-BII1T, was isolated from a sediment sample taken from a shallow-water hydrothermal vent in the Aegean Sea with thiosulfate as electron donor and CO2 as carbon source. Based on the almost complete sequence of the 16S rRNA gene, strain Milos-BII1T forms a phylogenetic cluster with Thiobacillus hydrothermalis, Thiobacillus neapolitanus, Thiobacillus halophilus and Thiobacillus sp. W5, all of which are obligately chemolithoautotrophic bacteria. Because of their phylogenetic relatedness and their physiological similarities it is proposed to transfer these organisms to a newly established genus within the gamma-subclass of the Proteobacteria, Halothiobacillus gen. nov. (Kelly and Wood 2000). Strain Milos-BII1T represents a new species of this genus, named Halothiobacillus kellyi. Cells were Gram-negative rods and highly motile. The organism was obligately autotrophic and strictly aerobic. Nitrate was not used as electron acceptor. Chemolithoautotrophic growth was observed with thiosulfate, tetrathionate, sulfur and sulfide. Growth was observed between pH values of 3.5 and 8.5, with an optimum at pH 6.5. The temperature limits for growth were 3.5 and 49 degrees C, with an optimum between 37 and 42 degrees C. Growth occurred between 0 and 2 M NaCl, with an optimum NaCl concentration between 400 and 500 mM. The mean maximum specific growth rate on thiosulfate was 0.45 h(-1).


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