Four strains of purple sulfur bacteria containing bacteriochlorophyll b were isolated from cyanobacterial mats of soda lakes in the steppe of south-east Siberia, Russia. Cells of all strains were cocci without gas vesicles. Eventually, cells with flagella were seen in the electron microscope, but motile cells were observed very rarely in cultures. Internal photosynthetic membranes were of the tubular type. Photosynthetic pigments were bacteriochlorophyll b and carotenoids with spectral characteristics similar to 3,4,3',4'-tetrahydrospirilloxanthin. The bacteria were obligately phototrophic and strictly anaerobic. Hydrogen sulfide and elemental sulfur were used as photosynthetic electron donors. Thiosulfate was not used. During growth on sulfide, sulfur globules were formed as intermediate oxidation products, deposited inside the cells and centrally located. In the presence of sulfide and sodium bicarbonate, acetate, malate, propionate, pyruvate, succinate, fumarate and yeast extract were photoassimilated. Growth factors were not required. The new bacterium is an obligate alkaliphile growing at pH 8-10 with an optimum at pH 9. It showed good growth up to 6.0% sodium chloride and up to 8.5% sodium carbonates. Phenotypically, it is similar to Thiococcus pfennigii, but different by virtue of its alkaliphily and salt tolerance. The DNA G+C content was 63.6-64.8 mol %, compared to 69.4-69.9 mol % for Thiococcus pfennigii. The 16S rDNA sequence of strain A26T was approximately 92% similar to that of Thiococcus pfennigii DSM 226 and therefore a new genus and species name, Thioalkalicoccus limnaeus gen. nov. and sp. nov., are proposed for the new bacterium.


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