Cultivation of a thermophilic ammonia oxidizing archaeon synthesizing crenarchaeol.
The widespread occurrence and diversity of ammonia oxidizing Archaea suggests their contribution to the nitrogen cycle is of global significance. Their distribution appeared limited to low- and moderate-temperature environments until the recent finding of a diagnostic membrane lipid, crenarchaeol, in terrestrial hot springs. We report here the cultivation of a thermophilic nitrifier ('Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii'), an autotrophic crenarchaeote growing up to 74 degrees C by aerobic ammonia oxidation. The major core lipid of this archaeon growing at 72 degrees C is crenarchaeol, providing the first direct evidence for its synthesis by a thermophile. These findings greatly extend the upper temperature limit of nitrification and document that the capacity for ammonia oxidation is broadly distributed among the Crenarchaeota.DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01506.x