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Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley


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Title: Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley

Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley
Microbiology of High Temperature Environments
  • Matt
  • Doug
  • Kana
  • Wes

  • Discovered by Dr. Thomas Brock, 1967 in
  • First thermophile found was Thermus aquaticus
    Yellowstone type-1 (Taq YT-1)
  • Thrive at temperatures above 45C

Rothschild Mancinelli, Nature 2001
Taxonomy of Thermophiles
  • Polyphyletic
  • Archaea, Prokaryotes, Eukaryotes
  • Thermophiles vs. Hyperthermophiles
  • 50-70C vs. 70
  • Not a phyletic distinction

Thermophilic Eukaryotes
  • Compost-dwelling fungus
  • Cyanidium caldarium
  • Rhodophyte of hot, acidic waters
  • Alvinella pompejana
  • Ephedra thermophila
  • No known hyperthermophilic eukaryotes
  • Possibility of such is much debated

Thermophilic Prokaryotes
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Alkaline water of 70-73C
  • Other photosynthetics with similar tolerances
  • Heterotrophics
  • Up to 90C
  • Includes common genera such as Bacillis and

Thermophilic Archaea
  • Thermophilic Heavyweights
  • All four phyla contain thermophilic genera
  • Euryarchaeota
  • Crenarchaeota
  • Korarchaeota
  • Nanoarchaeota

  • Largest phylum within the Archaea
  • Methanopyrus
  • Hyperthermophilic methanogen
  • Thermococcus and Pyrococcus
  • Optimum range of 70-100C
  • Archaeoglobus
  • True sulfate reducer
  • Ferroglobus
  • Shallow water hydrothermals around 80C
  • Reduces nitrate and oxidizes iron
  • May be responsible for Banded Iron Formations
    (1.9-2.6 Ga) previously attributed to

  • Small group, found in hot and cold environments
  • Sulfabolus
  • Aerobic chemolithotrophs and chemoorganotrophs
  • Oxidizes iron, utilizes sulfate and organics
  • 75C optimum
  • Acidianus
  • Aerobic and anaerobic chemolithotrophs and
  • 65-95C
  • Pyrolobus fumerii
  • Obligate chemolithotroph of hydrothermal vents
  • Optimum temp. 106C, survives up to 121C
  • Will survive an autoclave

  • Type locality- Obsidian Pool, Yellowstone
  • First discovered through PCR analysis
  • Currently being cultured, optimum temperature of
    85C determined
  • Primitive
  • 16S rRNA places it far from other Archaea
  • Possibly ancestral to the division

  • Nanoarchaeum equitans (2002)
  • External symbiote of Ignicoccus (Prokaryote)
  • Undetectable by normal PCR tests
  • 0.5 megabase genome
  • Smallest known
  • Humans have 3,000 megabases

Effect of High Temperature
  • Why cant all organisms survive?
  • Microorganisms vary widely in temperature
  • Most microorganisms readily inactivate above 50C
  • Bacterial spores often maintain viability at
    temps over 100C
  • Some Archaea remain viable at temps well above
  • Mechanisms of thermal inactivation
  • Cytoplasmic membrane
  • Typically consists of phospholipid bilayer with
    embedded (structural) proteins
  • Fatty acids main constituents of lipids
  • Temperatures increase - fatty acid chains begin
    to melt/separate
  • Membrane becomes too fluid - cytoplasm begins to
  • Cells lyse and death can occur
  • Proteins break down as well
  • No longer function as transport mechanism
  • Interaction between proteins and lipids fall

  • Enzymes (Catalytic proteins)
  • Not stable over wide range of temp
  • Chain of amino acids covalently linked via
    peptide bonds (primary structure)
  • Polypeptide chain folded back on itself - held
    together by hydrogen bonds (secondary structure)
  • Hydrogen bonds in secondary structure breakdown -
    polypeptide chain unfolds
  • Proteins denature become unstable, unravel,
    tangle with other proteins, form precipate
  • Boiled egg - protein (egg white) precipitates,
    forms solid
  • Once protein is unfolded chemical modifications
    take place, irreversibly inactivating proteins
  • Peptide bond hydrolysis, deamidation, cysteine
  • Unfolding irreversible in most mesophilic
  • Essential cellular processes stop - leads to cell

  • DNA structure
  • Double stranded (primary) structure - held
    together by hydrogen bonds
  • Adenine-Thymine base pair (two hydrogen bonds)
  • Guanine-Cytosine base pair (three hydrogen bonds)
  • As temperature rises hydrogen bonds begin to
  • DNA strands separate/melt
  • Typical DNA separates 65
  • Strands can reform if cooled
  • Secondary structure lost with continued temp rise
  • RNA structure
  • Single strand folded back on itself (secondary
    structure) - held together by hydrogen bonds
  • As temp rises hydrogen bonds break - RNA unfolds
  • Small molecules
  • Molecules like ATP, GTP, NAD, FAD not very heat
    resistant, unstable
  • Substrates
  • Denature more rapidly with increased temperature
  • No food source

Mechanisms/Adaptations of Thermophiles to High
  • Adaptation may be misnomer
  • Two types of fundamentally different Thermophiles
  • Ancestral Thermophiles (e.g. Themotoga, Aquifex)
  • Only thermophilc ancestors (foundation for origin
    of life?)
  • Evolved in thermophilic environments, thermophily
    built in from beginning
  • Recent Thermophiles (e.g. thermophilic Bacillius
    and Clostridium sp.)
  • Evolved from mesophilic organisms
  • Recent adaptations
  • Cytoplasmic membrane
  • Bacteria and Eukarya - modify lipid bilayer
  • Increase saturated fatty acids
  • Strengthens hydrophobic interactions, holds
    membrane together
  • Ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids
    modified to optimize fluidity, strength
  • Hydrocarbon chains vary in length (12-24 carbons)
    - longer higher Tm
  • Bacterial hyperthermophile T. maritina contain
    glycerol ether lipids, not ester lipids like
    other bacteria - more heat resistant

  • Archaea different, more stable membrane all
  • Ether linkages between glycerol and hydrophobic
    side chains (fatty acids)
  • Ether bonds more stable than ester
  • Lack fatty acids altogether
  • C40 hydrocarbons composed of repeating chains of
    five carbon compound isoprene
  • Structure comprised of lipid monolayer in lieu of
    lipid bilayer
  • Spans entire membrane not just inner or outer
  • Branching side chains
  • In addition to being built from different
    components, in Archaea theside chains themselves
    are branched
  • Branches join together, create more strength
  • Five carbon rings are formed when one side branch
    bonds with another
  • Much more stable at high temps
  • Proteins
  • More stable

  • Enzymes (Catalytic proteins)
  • Little difference between proteins of
    hyperthermophiles and mesophiles
  • Critical amino acid substitutions in one or a few
  • Allows protein to fold in more dense, stable way
  • Increased number of Disulfide bridges - increase
    stability, unfolding resistance
  • Less of the amino acid glycine - which increases
    flexibility decreases stability
  • Chaperones are also synthesized
  • Proteins that help other proteins fold more
  • Can also refold denatured proteins
  • Other intracellular factors like coenzymes,
    substrates, general stabilizers such as
    thermamine also help resist unfolding
  • Enzymatic function tuned to the organisms growth
  • Exoenzymes are exception - optimal temp typically
    much higher than parent organism

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  • DNA structure
  • Contains many small, basic proteins
  • Proteins bind duplex DNA, substantially
    increasing temperature stability
  • Also compact or bend double stranded DNA upon
    binding - stronger yet
  • Some contain Histone or histone-like proteins
    allowing formation of nucleosome like structure -
    raises melting temp
  • Most Bacteria and Archaea have negatively
    supercoiled DNA
  • Supercoiling altered with increasing temp,
    providing increased strength
  • Extreme thermophiles in both Archaeal and
    Bacterial taxa possess reverse DNA gyrase protein
  • Enables positive supercoiling of DNA
  • Over winds DNA helix - much tighter, more
  • Increased intracellular salt - strengthens DNA
  • Contain variety of polyamines - increased
    structural strength
  • Hyperthermophiles also thought to have unusually
    effective DNA repair mechanisms

  • RNA structure
  • Modest changes in sequences and structures of RNA
    provides more stability
  • Thermophilic RNA - rich in G-C base pairs
  • More importantly - very low in G-U base pairs,
    mismatches, other irregularities that, in
    mesophiles lead to flexibility in the RNA
  • RNA unusually short, no extra sequences
  • Shorter sequences - fewer nonfunctional folding
  • Alterations in protein binding can also
    stabilize RNA
  • Small molecule stability
  • May be biggest problem for thermophiles
  • Tm of guanosine triphosphate (GTP) only a few
    seconds at 100C
  • GTP required for translation, RNA synthesis and
    other processes
  • ATP, NAD, FAD and others not very heat resistant
  • Critical to cell processes
  • Likely synthesized on as needed basis so
    degradation loss not to great

Is There an Upper Limit for Life? What is it
and Why?
  • YES!
  • Until the 60s it was thought to be around 60C
  • 1967 Brock discovered Thermus Aquaticus in
    Yellowstone hot springs
  • First organism to be identified capable of growth
    over 70C
  • More recent studies
  • Reported growth of Strain 121 at 121C (Autoclave
  • Survival up to 130C

  • Lab studies may underestimate upper limit
  • Thermus aquaticus readily isolated from
    hydrothermal systems at 90-100C
  • Wont grow reliably in lab above 80C
  • Temp gradient around black smokers very step
  • Can vary from 450C to 5C over tens of
  • Horizontal transects have shown biological
    signals (16S rRNA) across much of transect
  • Location makes correlating biological signatures
    to temp gradient difficult
  • Consequently, upper limit likely higher than

  • Current understanding places upper limit around
  • Energetic burden imposed by molecular repair and
    resynthesis unsustainable
  • Could not prevent dissolution of chemical bonds
    maintaining integrity of DNA and other molecules
  • Amino acids relatively stable up to 150C,
    degrade in seconds at 250C
  • High temp amino acids become racemized (flip from
    L to D)
  • Flipping would lead to irreversible denaturation
  • Small molecules (GTP, ATP , NAD, etc.) denature
    very rapidly above 150C
  • May actually dictate upper temp of life

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Thermozymes not just for the exam
  • Stabilization of mesophilic enzymes
  • Industrial applications
  • Novel proteins
  • Fame and fortune

Modified Mesozymes
  • Reaction stability
  • High temperature reactions
  • Chemical resistance
  • Long-term stability
  • Shelf life and activity length

Novel Proteins
  • 42 of the 25 top selling drugs in the US are
    from natural and derived natural products. (Bull
    et al. 2000)
  • Possibility that deep sea diversity could exceed
    10 million species

Fame and Fortune
  • 1993 Nobel prize in chemistry awarded to Dr. Kary
    Mullis for inventing PCR.
  • In 1991 Cetus sold Hoffman-La Roche the PCR
    patent for 300 million.

Methods of Enzyme Manufacture
  • Mesophile enzyme mutants
  • Site Directed Mutagenesis
  • Directed Evolution
  • Hyperthermophile enzymes
  • Direct extraction
  • Mesophilic host

Site Directed Mutagenesis
Directed Evolution
  • Random point mutations introduced into the target
    gene followed by a screen for desired phenotype.
    Repeat for multiple mutants.
  • More common approach as less prior knowledge of
    the protein is required.

Bacillus subtilis substillin E engineering
  • Hyperthermophile extraction
  • Cultivation of organism and isolation of enzyme
  • Mesophilic Host
  • Transfection of a hyperthermophilic gene into a
    host for expression.

Commercial Uses of Enzymes
  • Biotech
  • DNA polymerases
  • DNA ligases
  • Restriction Enzymes
  • Industry (potential uses)
  • Starch degradation - amylases
  • Cellulose degradation cellulases, xylanases

Polymerase Chain Reaction
Polymerase Fidelity
  • Pfu 1.3 x 10-6
  • exo- Pfu 5 x 10-5
  • Vent 2.8 x 10-6
  • Deep Vent 2.7 x 10-6
  • Taq 8.0 x 10-6
  • UlTma 5 x 10-6
  • (mutation frequency/bp)

Uses of PCR
  • DNA cloning
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Producing point mutations
  • Quantifying mRNA
  • Identification of diseases
  • and much more!

Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley
Where The Heat Comes From
Magma chamber acts as heat source and sets up
convection cells Entrained water is heated near
chamber and exits heated and full of dissolved
minerals Most hot springs are volcanically
created, but at least one is not.
The Lost City Hydrothermal Field
Is Unlike Any Known Submarine Vent System
Hosted on 1-2 my old mantle rocks
60 m tall carbonate towers
Venting lt40-90C diffuse fluids, low metals,
low silica, pHs 9-11
Fluids are enriched in methane, hydrogen,
and other hydrocarbons
Macrofaunal communities sparse, unique
microbial populations
Fueled by rock-altering reactions does not
require volcanic heat
May be our closest analogue to early Earth?
Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley
Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley
Early Atmosphere
  • No free oxygen.
  • Contained CH4, H2O, N2, NH3, H2S, CO2
  • H2 and He were escaping to space because of the
    Earths weak gravity.
  • Atmospheric pressure 10x what it is today.
  • Temperature around 90C because of greenhouse
  • Venus and Mars have similar atmospheres, but are
    too close or too far from the sun to have liquid

  • Discovered January 7, 1610 by Galileo
  • Second of the four Galilean moons
  • Surface composition is Ice
  • Tidal heat creates fissures and keeps
  • interior water melted
  • Tectonically active, ice rather than rock
  • Believed to have hydrothermal vents
  • under ice

Plans to test Hydrobot on Lake Vostok in
Antarctica Cryobot melts through the ice and
deploys AUV Hydrobot
Courtesy of Dr. Deborah Kelley
  • Andrade et al, 1999. Extremely thermophilic
    microorganisms and their polymer-hidrolytic
  • enzymes. Revista de Microbiologica
  • Arnet, Bill. "Bilder av Jupiter og dens
    satellitter", 1999.
  • http//
    xjup.htmlBull et al, 2000. Search and Discovery
    strategies for biotechnology the paradigm shift.
  • Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
    64 no. 3575-606.Cline et al, 1996. PCR fidelity
    of Pfu DNA polymerase and other thermostable DNA
  • Nucleic Acids Research 24, no. 18
  • Daniel, R. 1996. The Upper Limits of Enzyme
    Thermal Stability. Enzyme and Microbial
  • Technology. 1974-79.
  • Eichler, J., 2001. Biotechnological uses of
    archaeal extremozymes. Biotechnology Advances
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  • Grogan, D. 1998. Hyperthermophiles and the
    Problem of DNA Instability. Molecular
  • Microbiology. 28(6)1043-1049.
  • Haki, G., and S. Rakshit. 2003. Developments in
    Industrially Important Thermostable Enzymes
  • A Review. Bioresource Technology.
  • Hively, W. 1993. Life Beyond Boiling.
    Discover. May87-91.
  • Huber, R., H. Huber, and K. Stetter. 2000.
    Towards the Ecology of Hyperthermophiles
  • Biotopes, New Isolation Strategies and Novel
    Metabolic Properties. FEMS Microbiology
  • Reviews. 24615-623.
  • Itoh, Y., A. Sugai, I. Uda, and T. Itoh. 2001.
    The Evolution of Lipids. Adv. Space Res.

Kelley, Deborah. Personal Communications April
27, 2005. University of Washington School of
Oceanography. Lurquin, Paul F. The Origins of
Life and the Universe, New York Columbia
University Press, 2003. Madigan, M., and B.
Mars. 1997. Extremophiles. Scientific
American, April82-87. Madigan, M. T., J. M.
Martinko, and J. Parker (2003) Brock Biology of
Microorganisms, Tenth Edition, Prentice
Hall, Pearson Education, Inc., 1019 pp. NASA.
"Life on Europa", http//
life.htm NASA. "Solar System Exploration
Jupiter Moons", http//
planets/profile.cfm?ObjectJupiterDisplayMoons R
obb, F., and D. Maeder. 1998. Novel
Evolutionary Histories and Adaptive Features of
Proteins from Hyperthermophiles. Current
Opinion in Biotechnology. 9288-291. Rothschild,
L. and Mancinelli, R., 2001. Life in extreme
environments. Nature 4091092-1101 Russell, A.
2003. Lethal Effects of Heat on Bacterial
Physiology and Structure. Science Progress.
86115-137. Stetter, K. 1999. Minireview
Extremophiles and Their Adaptation to Hot
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