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      Cell proliferation at 122 C and isotopically heavy CH4 production by a hyperthermophilic methanogen under high-pressure cultivation

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          Abstract

          We have developed a technique for cultivation of chemolithoautotrophs under high hydrostatic pressures that is successfully applicable to various types of deep-sea chemolithoautotrophs, including methanogens. It is based on a glass-syringe-sealing liquid medium and gas mixture used in conjunction with a butyl rubber piston and a metallic needle stuck into butyl rubber. By using this technique, growth, survival, and methane production of a newly isolated, hyperthermophilic methanogen Methanopyrus kandleri strain 116 are characterized under high temperatures and hydrostatic pressures. Elevated hydrostatic pressures extend the temperature maximum for possible cell proliferation from 116 degrees C at 0.4 MPa to 122 degrees C at 20 MPa, providing the potential for growth even at 122 degrees C under an in situ high pressure. In addition, piezophilic growth significantly affected stable carbon isotope fractionation of methanogenesis from CO(2). Under conventional growth conditions, the isotope fractionation of methanogenesis by M. kandleri strain 116 was similar to values (-34 per thousand to -27 per thousand) previously reported for other hydrogenotrophic methanogens. However, under high hydrostatic pressures, the isotope fractionation effect became much smaller (< -12 per thousand), and the kinetic isotope effect at 122 degrees C and 40 MPa was -9.4 per thousand, which is one of the smallest effects ever reported. This observation will shed light on the sources and production mechanisms of deep-sea methane.

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          Most cited references27

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          Extending the upper temperature limit for life.

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            Evidence from fluid inclusions for microbial methanogenesis in the early Archaean era.

            Methanogenic microbes may be one of the most primitive organisms, although it is uncertain when methanogens first appeared on Earth. During the Archaean era (before 2.5 Gyr ago), methanogens may have been important in regulating climate, because they could have provided sufficient amounts of the greenhouse gas methane to mitigate a severely frozen condition that could have resulted from lower solar luminosity during these times. Nevertheless, no direct geological evidence has hitherto been available in support of the existence of methanogens in the Archaean period, although circumstantial evidence is available in the form of approximately 2.8-Gyr-old carbon-isotope-depleted kerogen. Here we report crushing extraction and carbon isotope analysis of methane-bearing fluid inclusions in approximately 3.5-Gyr-old hydrothermal precipitates from Pilbara craton, Australia. Our results indicate that the extracted fluids contain microbial methane with carbon isotopic compositions of less than -56 per thousand included within original precipitates. This provides the oldest evidence of methanogen (> 3.46 Gyr ago), pre-dating previous geochemical evidence by about 700 million years.
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              Abiotic synthesis of organic compounds in deep-sea hydrothermal environments.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                August 05 2008
                August 05 2008
                July 29 2008
                August 05 2008
                : 105
                : 31
                : 10949-10954
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0712334105
                2490668
                18664583
                510e14af-1d8f-49e5-a3fc-7fe360cdd8c2
                © 2008
                History

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