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Alcanivorax borkumensis

posted Jul 7, 2010, 1:04 PM by Beth Orcutt

Alcanivorax borkumensis is a helpful microbe that can eat oil and hydrocarbons in the presence of oxygen.  Although it is well known from chomping on hydrocarbons in oil spills, it was first isolated from sediments of the North Sea, where lots of oil and gas wells are located.  Alcanivorax is looking for a new home in an oily environment - anybody on the Gulf Coast interested?

Image courtesy of American Society of Microbiology and Heinrich Luensdorf, HZI Braunschweig)

Archaeoglobus fulgidus

posted Jul 7, 2010, 1:02 PM by Beth Orcutt

This is Archaeoglobus fulgidus, an archaeote who can be found causing trouble in steamy and stinky hydrothermal vents and deep ocean oil wells.  Archaeoglobus likes to eat sulfate, making hydrogen sulfide as a waste product, and this sulfide contributes to the rotten egg smell found at hydrothermal vents and oil wells.  Archaeoglobus is looking for a new home at hot temperatures (75 Celsius/165 Fahrenheit). 

Image courtesy MicrobeWiki and Nature Magazine.

Arcobacter sulfidicus

posted Jul 7, 2010, 1:01 PM by Beth Orcutt

Arcobacter sulfidicus is like a little hotdog with 4 tails, swimming around looking for sulfide and oxygen to eat.  It happily lives around hydrothermal vents at the seafloor, so it likes warm temperatures.

Image courtesy of Dr. Craig Smith, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Beggiatoa spp.

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:59 PM by Beth Orcutt

Beggiatoa bacteria love stinky sulfide, which they eat with abandon while living on marine sediments.  Beggiatoa make string-like filaments which are visible to the naked eye, in white, orange and pink.  Beggiatoa form thick 'mats' on the sediment surface in areas with high sulfide - such at hydrothermal vents and marine cold seeps.

Image courtesy of MicrobeWiki and Microbial Diversity 1997 (Rolf Schauder).

Desulfovibrio desulfuricans

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:58 PM by Beth Orcutt

Meet Desulfovibrio desulfuricans, another sulfate eating microbe like Archaeoglobus.  Unlike Archaeoglobus, Desulfovibrio is a bacterium (not an archaeote), but they both generate stinky hydrogen sulfide as a waste product.  Desulfovibrio likes to live in muddy environments at the seafloor, but it definitely does not like to live around oxygen (it's an anaerobe!).  This bacterium can also eat nitrate and metals like iron and chromium, so it has become popular as a potential 'bioremediator' of toxic sites.

Image courtesy of MicrobeWiki and the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

Marinobacter aquaeolei

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:57 PM by Beth Orcutt

Marinobacter aquaeolei is a versatile microbe that lives in deep water and ocean oil wells, swimming around in search of something to eat.  Marinobacter loves to eat iron, forming rust as a waste product.  Sometimes Marinobacter forms sticky, slimy biofilms, and they can also eat hydrocarbons.

Image courtesy of Microbewiki and JGI.

Mariprofundus ferrooxydans

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:55 PM by Beth Orcutt

Mariprofundus ferrooxydans is a fancy-pants microbe.  The microbe itself is shaped like a kidney bean, but as it grows, eating iron and oxygen, it produces beautiful twisted ribbons of rust.

photo courtesy Clara Chan

Methanocaldococcus jannaschii

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:54 PM by Beth Orcutt

Methanocaldococcus jannaschii is a microbe that loves hot hot heat.  It can be found in hydrothermal vents at the seafloor, happily making a living making methane gas from eating carbon dioxide and hydrogen.  To us, it lives in an 'extreme' environment - water that is slightly acidic and near boiling - so it is very popular among scientists that are curious about how life can survive under such harsh conditions.

Image courtesy of MicrobeWiki and UC Berkley Electron Microscope Lab.

Methanopyrus kandleri

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:53 PM by Beth Orcutt

Methanopyrus kandleri is one of the hottest microbes on the market, capable of living in near boiling water.  Methanopyrus eats hydrogen and carbon dioxide and makes methane.

Photo courtesy of MicrobeWiki, copyright K.O. Stetter and R. Rachel, Univ. Regensburg, Germany

Photobacterium profundum

posted Jul 7, 2010, 12:52 PM by Beth Orcutt

Although its name implies a life in the sun, Photobacterium profundum originated from dark deep sea sediments off of the coast of Japan - in the absence of sunlight!  Photobacterium is a microbe that is loved by many scientists because of its ability to grow at really high pressures (up to 70 MPa!).  It can eat nitrate plus a variety of sugars and other carbon compounds to get energy.

Image courtesy of MicrobeWiki and

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