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The genome of the hyperthermophile Methanopyrus kandleri


Scientists have sequenced Methanopyrus kandleri, a rod-shaped organism that produces methane and grows optimally at temperatures near and above the boiling point of water. The microbe was isolated from the sea floor at the base of a 'black smoker' chimney in the Gulf of California. It is a member of the archaea family, an ancient branch of life distinct from plants, animals, and bacteria.

Methanopyrus kandleri.

Methanopyrus kandleri has relatively few genes transferred from other organisms compared to other archaea. This may be due to the extreme environment of M. kandleri, which would limit its ability to exchange genes with other organisms.

"We found that M. kandleri is a 'minimalist' archaeon whose regulatory and signaling systems are generally scaled down compared with those of other archaea," the scientists write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Alexei I. Slesarev of Fidelity Systems in Gaithersburg, Maryland, led the study.

The sequence includes 1.7 million base pairs and about 1,690 genes. The researchers compared the sequence to that of other sequenced methanogens to identify a distinct set of genes characteristic of archaeal methanogens. The other organisms were Methanococcus jannaschii and Methanothermobacter thermoautotrophicum.

See related GNN articles
»The First Sequenced Extremophile
»Methane-producing microbes dominate in hot spring

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Slesarev, A.I. et al. The complete genome of hyperthermophile Methanopyrus kandleri AV19 and monophyly of archaeal methanogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99, 4644-4649 (April 2, 2002).

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