A novel moderately thermophilic facultative methylotroph within the class Alphaproteobacteria

Tajul Islam, Marcela Hernández, Amare Gessesse, J. Colin Murrell, Lise Øvreås

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Methylotrophic bacteria (non-methanotrophic methanol oxidizers) consuming reduced carbon compounds containing no carbon–carbon bonds as their sole carbon and energy source have been found in a great variety of environments. Here, we report a unique moderately thermophilic methanol-oxidising bacterium (strain LS7-MT) that grows optimally at 55 °C (with a growth range spanning 30 to 60 °C). The pure isolate was recovered from a methane-utilizing mixed culture enrichment from an alkaline thermal spring in the Ethiopia Rift Valley, and utilized methanol, methylamine, glucose and a variety of multi-carbon compounds. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences demonstrated that strain LS7-MT represented a new facultatively methylotrophic bacterium within the order Hyphomicrobiales of the class Alphaproteobacteria. This new strain showed 94 to 96% 16S rRNA gene identity to the two methylotroph genera, Methyloceanibacter and Methyloligella. Analysis of the draft genome of strain LS7-MT revealed genes for methanol dehydrogenase, essential for methanol oxidation. Functional and comparative genomics of this new isolate revealed genomic and physiological divergence from extant methylotrophs. Strain LS7-MT contained a complete mxaF gene cluster and xoxF1 encoding the lanthanide-dependent methanol dehydrogenase (XoxF). This is the first report of methanol oxidation at 55 °C by a moderately thermophilic bacterium within the class Alphaproteobacteria. These findings expand our knowledge of methylotrophy by the phylum Proteobacteria in thermal ecosystems and their contribution to global carbon and nitrogen cycles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number477
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Alphaproteobacteria
  • Facultative
  • Methanol oxidation
  • Moderately thermophilic
  • Thermal spring

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