ABSTRACTThe orderRickettsiales(Alphaproteobacteria) is a well-known group containing obligate endocellular prokaryotes. The order encompasses three families (Rickettsiaceae,Anaplasmataceae, andHolosporaceae) and a fourth, family-level cluster, which includes only one candidate species, “CandidatusMidichloria mitochondrii,” as well as several unnamed bacterial symbionts. The broad host range exhibited by the members of the “CandidatusMidichloria” clade suggests their eventual relevance for a better understanding of the evolution of symbiosis and host specificity ofRickettsiales. In this paper, two new bacteria belonging to the “CandidatusMidichloria” clade, hosted by two different strains of the ciliate protistEuplotes harpa, are described on the basis of ultrastructural observations, comparative 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis, and an estimation of the percentage of infection. Ultrastructure of these bacteria shows some unusual features: one has an electron-dense cytoplasm, and the other one lacks a symbiosomal membrane. The latter was up to now considered an exclusive feature of bacteria belonging to the familyRickettsiaceae. 16S rRNA gene phylogenetic analysis unambiguously places the new bacteria in the “CandidatusMidichloria” clade, although their phylogenetic relationships with other members of the clade are not clearly resolved. This is the first report of a ciliate-borne bacterium belonging to the “CandidatusMidichloria” clade. On the basis of the data obtained, the two bacteria are proposed as two new candidate genera and species, “CandidatusAnadelfobacter veles” and “CandidatusCyrtobacter comes.”
A combination of polymerase chain reaction-assisted rRNA sequence retrieval and fluorescent oligonucleotide probing was used to identify in situ a hitherto unculturable, big, magnetotactic, rod-shaped organism in freshwater sediment samples collected from Lake Chiemsee. Tentatively named
this bacterium is evolutionarily distant from all other phylogenetically characterized magnetotactic bacteria and contains unusually high numbers of magnetosomes (up to 1,000 magnetosomes per cell). The spatial distribution in the sediment was studied, and up to 7 × 10
active cells per cm
were found in the microaerobic zone. Considering its average volume (25.8 ± 4.1 μm
) and relative abundance (0.64 ± 0.17%),
may account for approximately 30% of the microbial biovolume and may therefore be a dominant fraction of the microbial community in this layer. Its microhabitat and its high content of sulfur globules and magnetosomes suggest that this organism has an iron-dependent way of energy conservation which depends on balanced gradients of oxygen and sulfide.