8th June 2018 - Nature: The ISME Journal
Members of the candidate phylum Acetothermia are globally distributed and detected in various habitats. However, little is known about their physiology and ecological importance. In this study, an operational taxonomic unit belonging to Acetothermia was detected at high abundance in four full-scale anaerobic digesters by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The first closed genome from this phylum was obtained by differential coverage binning of metagenomes and scaffolding with long nanopore reads. Genome annotation and metabolic reconstruction suggested an anaerobic chemoheterotrophic lifestyle in which the bacterium obtains energy and carbon via fermentation of peptides, amino acids, and simple sugars to acetate, formate, and hydrogen. The morphology was unusual and composed of a central rod-shaped cell with bipolar prosthecae as revealed by fluorescence in situ hybridization combined with confocal laser scanning microscopy, Raman microspectroscopy, and atomic force microscopy. We hypothesize that these prosthecae allow for increased nutrient uptake by greatly expanding the cell surface area, providing a competitive advantage under nutrient-limited conditions.