Two novel magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) were isolated from sediment and water collected from the Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park and southeastern shore of the Salton Sea, respectively, and were designated as strains BW-2 and SS-5, respectively. Both organisms are rod-shaped, biomineralize magnetite, and are motile by means of flagella. The strains grow chemolithoautotrophically oxidizing thiosulfate and sulfide microaerobically as electron donors, with thiosulfate oxidized stoichiometrically to sulfate. They appear to utilize the Calvin–Benson–Bassham cycle for autotrophy based on ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) activity and the presence of partial sequences of RubisCO genes. Strains BW-2 and SS-5 biomineralize chains of octahedral magnetite crystals, although the crystals of SS-5 are elongated. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, both strains are phylogenetically affiliated with the Gammaproteobacteria class. Strain SS-5 belongs to the order Chromatiales; the cultured bacterium with the highest 16S rRNA gene sequence identity to SS-5 is Thiohalocapsa marina (93.0%). Strain BW-2 clearly belongs to the Thiotrichales; interestingly, the organism with the highest 16S rRNA gene sequence identity to this strain is Thiohalospira alkaliphila (90.2%), which belongs to the Chromatiales. Each strain represents a new genus. This is the first report of magnetite-producing MTB phylogenetically associated with the Gammaproteobacteria. This finding is important in that it significantly expands the phylogenetic diversity of the MTB. Physiology of these strains is similar to other MTB and continues to demonstrate their potential in nitrogen, iron, carbon and sulfur cycling in natural environments.



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