Isolation of Extremely Thermophilic Sulfate Reducers: Evidence for a Novel Branch of Archaebacteria

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Science  15 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4803, pp. 822-824
DOI: 10.1126/science.236.4803.822


Extremely thermophilic archaebacteria are known to be metabolizers of elemental sulfur and the methanogens. A novel group of extremely thermophilic archaebacteria is described, which consists of sulfate-respiring organisms that contain pure factor 420 and that have been isolated from marine hydrothermal systems in Italy. They possess a third type of archaebacterial RNA polymerase structure previously unknown, indicating an exceptional phylogenetic position. Most likely, this group represents a third major branch within the archaebacteria. The existence of sulfate reducers at extremely high temperatures could explain hydrogen sulfide formation in hot sulfate-containing environments, such as submarine hydrothermal systems and deep oil wells.

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