Psychrophilic actinobacterial isolates from permanently cold groundwater in Finland were characterized using a polyphasic approach. Growth on agar plates was observed at temperatures down to -2 degrees C, with an optimum at 15-17 degrees C, but no growth was observed at 30 degrees C. The peptidoglycan type was B2y and the characteristic diamino acid was diaminobutyric acid. The cell wall sugars of strain K265T were rhamnose, ribose, xylose and mannose and those of strain K300T were glucose, rhamnose and xylose. The polar lipids included phosphatidylglycerol, diphosphatidylglycerol, one unknown phospholipid and two glycolipids. The main whole-cell fatty acids were 12-methyltetradecanoic acid, 14-methylpentadecanoic acid and 14-methylhexadecanoic acid. Large amounts of anteiso-1,1-dimethoxy-pentadecane and also iso-1,1-dimethoxyhexadecane were present as diagnostic markers. The predominant menaquinones were MK-9 and MK-10. The G+C content of the DNA of strains K265T and K300T was 64.4 and 67.8 mol%, respectively. Comparison of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that strains K265T and K300T represent a new lineage among the type-B-peptidoglycan actinomycetes. The closest relatives were Clavibacter michiganensis, Frigoribacterium faeni and Rathayibacter rathayi. On the basis of 16S rDNA sequence, G+C content and chemotaxonomical and physiological characteristics, K265T and K300T clearly represent a new genus. The genus Subtercola gen. nov. is described, together with two species, namely Subtercola boreus sp. nov. (type strain K300T = DSM 13056T = CCUG 43135T) and Subtercola frigoramans sp. nov (type strain K265T = DSM 13057T = CCUG 43136T).


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