Two anaerobic, thermophilic, Gram-positive, non-spore forming bacteria with an array of polysaccharide-degrading enzymes were isolated from the leachate of a waste pile from a canning factory in Hoopeston, East Central Illinois, USA. The results of 16S rDNA sequence homology indicated that their closest relatives belong to the saccharolytic, thermophilic and anaerobic genera of Thermoanaerobacterium and Thermoanaerobacter. Although, the evolutionary distances between these bacteria and their closest relatives are greater than 11%, there is no defining phenotypic characteristic for the creation of a new genus. It is proposed that these bacteria should be placed in the genus Thermoanaerobacterium, which requires emendment of the genus description with regard to the reduction of thiosulfate to sulfur, because neither isolate is capable of this reduction. Thermoanaerobacterium polysaccharolyticum reduces thiosulfate to sulfide, whereas Thermoanaerobacterium zeae is unable to reduce thiosulfate. The cells of both isolates are rod-shaped and exist as single cells or sometimes in pairs. Cells are motile by means of flagella. Growth occurs between 45 and 72 degrees C, with optimum temperature of 65-68 degrees C at pH 6.8. The pH range for growth is from 4 to 8 at a temperature of 65 degrees C. Both organisms ferment glucose, arabinose, maltose, mannose, rhamnose, sucrose, trehalose, xylose, cellobiose, raffinose, melibiose and melezitose. The major end products of fermentation with glucose are ethanol and CO2, with lesser amounts of acetate, formate, lactate and hydrogen. The DNA G+C contents of Thermoanaerobacterium polysaccharolyticum sp. nov. and Thermoanaerobacterium zeae sp. nov. are 46 and 42 mol%, respectively. The type strains are KMTHCJT (= ATCC BAA-17T = DSM 13641T) and mel2T (= ATCC BAA-16T = DSM 13642T), respectively.


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