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Aquifex aeolicus
Aquifex aeolicus
Image source: Stetter and R. Rachel, University of Regensburg, Germany

Aquifex aeolicus


Bacteria; Aquificae; Aquificae (class); Aquificales; Aquificaceae; Aquifex; Aquifex aeolicus


Gram Stain

Accession Numbers

Chromosome: 1,551,335 bp
Plasmid pEce1: 39,456 bp

Aquifex aeolicus, which was first found in Yellowstone National Park, can grow at 96 degrees Celsius and is one of the most extreme thermophilic bacteria known. Because of this, Aquifex is thought to be one of the earliest bacteria to diverge from eubacteria. Hyperthermophilic bacteria such as Aquifex are important for industrial processes and its genes can be used in a variety of biotechnological applications.

Even though Aquifex has the ability to survive at extreme temperatures, there are only a few specific heat-resistance indicators evident in the A. aeolicus genome. The genome, which is 1,551,335 bp in length, is densely packed and contains genes that overlap others. In addition, no introns or protein splicing elements have been found. This, along with a reduced metabolic flexability, is probably due to the limited genome size; the genome of this complex organism is ony one-third of the E. coli genome.

Aquifex are nonsporeforming, gram-negative, generally rod-shaped organisms. They are about 2.0-6.0 micrometers in length and have a diameter of 0.4-0.5 micrometers. As autotrophic organisms, Aquifex fix carbon dioxide from the environment to get the carbon that they need. They are chemolithotrophic, which means that they draw energy for biosynthesis from inorganic chemical sources.

Aquifex, meaning "water-maker," got its name because the the final product of this reaction is water. Even so, most Aquificales can use thiosulfate or sulfur as an energy source (much like chlorobium and other green sulfur bacteria) and produce sulfuric acid and H2S instead of water. Although most Aquifcales are strictly aerobic, A. pyrophilus was shown to be able to grow anaerobically by reducing nitrogen instead of oxygen (forming an end product of N2 instead of water).

As a hyperthermophilic bactertium, Aquifex aeolicus grows in extremely hot tempuratures such as near volcanoes or hot springs. It needs oxygen to carry on its metabolic machinery, but it can function in relatively low levels of oxygen (A. pyrophilus can grow in levels of oxygen as low as 7.5 ppm). A. aeolicus can grow on hydrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and mineral salts (Deckert et al. 1998). Aquifex species generally form large cell aggregates, which can be comprised of up to 100 individual cells.


Sequenced By
Diversa Corporation, San Diego, California 92121, USA.

Sequence Publications
Deckert G, Warren PV, Gaasterland T, Young WG, Lenox AL, Graham DE, Overbeek R, Snead MA, Keller M, Aujay M, Huber R, Feldman RA, Short JM, Olsen GJ, Swanson RV., Nature 392(6674):353-8 (1998 Mar 26).


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