Conspicuous veils formed by vibrioid bacteria on sulfidic marine sediment

Publisher:
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2002, 68 (12), pp. 6310 - 6320
Issue Date:
2002-01
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We describe the morphology and behavior of a hitherto unknown bacterial species that forms conspicuous veils (typical dimensions, 30 by 30 mm) on sulfidic marine sediment. The new bacteria were enriched on complex sulfidic medium within a benthic gradient chamber in oxygen-sulfide countergradients, but the bacteria have so far not been isolated in pure culture, and a detailed characterization of their metabolism is still lacking. The bacteria are colorless, gram-negative, and vibrioid-shaped (1.3- to 2.5- by 4- to 10-µm) cells that multiply by binary division and contain several spherical inclusions of poly-ß-hydroxybutyric acid. The cells have bipolar polytrichous flagella and exhibit a unique swimming pattern, rotating and translating along their short axis. Free-swimming cells showed aerotaxis and aggregated at ca. 2 µM oxygen within opposing oxygen-sulfide gradients, where they were able to attach via a mucous stalk, forming a cohesive whitish veil at the oxic-anoxic interface. Bacteria attached to the veil kept rotating and adapted their stalk lengths dynamically to changing oxygen concentrations.
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