Methylomirabilis oxyfera” is a newly discovered denitrifying methanotroph that is unrelated to previously known methanotrophs. This bacterium is a member of the NC10 phylum and couples methane oxidation to denitrification through a newly discovered intra-aerobic pathway. In the present study, we report the first ultrastructural study of “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” using scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and electron tomography in combination with different sample preparation methods. We observed that “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” cells possess an atypical polygonal shape that is distinct from other bacterial shapes described so far. Also, an additional layer was observed as the outermost sheath, which might represent a (glyco)protein surface layer. Further, intracytoplasmic membranes, which are a common feature among proteobacterial methanotrophs, were never observed under the current growth conditions. Our results indicate that “
. Methylomirabilis oxyfera” is ultrastructurally distinct from other bacteria by its atypical cell shape and from the classical proteobacterial methanotrophs by its apparent lack of intracytoplasmic membranes.
The anaerobic nitrite-reducing methanotroph ‘CandidatusMethylomirabilis oxyfera’ (‘Ca.M. oxyfera’) produces oxygen from nitrite by a novel pathway. The major part of the O2is used for methane activation and oxidation, which proceeds by the route well known for aerobic methanotrophs. Residual oxygen may serve other purposes, such as respiration. We have found that the genome of ‘Ca.M. oxyfera’ harbours four sets of genes encoding terminal respiratory oxidases: two cytochromecoxidases, a third putativebo-type ubiquinol oxidase, and a cyanide-insensitive alternative oxidase. Illumina sequencing of reverse-transcribed total community RNA and quantitative real-time RT-PCR showed that all four sets of genes were transcribed, albeit at low levels. Oxygen-uptake and inhibition experiments, UV–visible absorption spectral characteristics and EPR spectroscopy of solubilized membranes showed that only one of the four oxidases is functionally produced by ‘Ca.M. oxyfera’, notably the membrane-boundbo-type terminal oxidase. These findings open a new role for terminal respiratory oxidases in anaerobic systems, and are an additional indication of the flexibility of terminal oxidases, of which the distribution among anaerobic micro-organisms may be largely underestimated.