Ignicoccus is a genus of Archaea living in marine hydrothermal vents. They were discovered in Kolbeinsey Ridge north of Iceland and in the Pacific Ocean (at 9 degrees N, 104 degrees W) in 2000 (Huber et al., 2000).
According to the comparisons of 16S rRNA genes, Ignicoccus represents a new, deeply branching lineage within the family of the Desulfurococcaceae (Huber et al., 2002). Three species are known, I. islandicus, I. pacificus and I. hospitalis strain KIN4I.
They have a previously unknown cell envelope structure—a cytoplasmic membrane, a periplasmic space (with a variable width of 20 to 400 nm, containing membrane-bound vesicles), and an outer membrane (approximately 10 nm wide, resembling the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria). The latter contains numerous tightly, irregularly packed single particles (about 8 nm in diameter) and pores with a diameter of 24 nm, surrounded by tiny particles, arranged in a ring (with a diameter of 130 nm) and clusters of up to eight particles (each particle 12 nm in diameter) (Rachel et al. 2002).
Ignicocci live in a temperature range of 70–98 °C (optimum around 90 °C). They gain energy by reduction of elemental sulfur to hydrogen sulfide using molecular hydrogen as the electron donor (Huber et al., 2002). A unique symbiosis with (or parasitism by) Nanoarchaeum equitans has also been reported (Huber et al., 2002).
- Huber H, Burggraf S, Mayer T, Wyschkony I, Rachel R, Stetter KO Ignicoccus gen. nov., a novel genus of hyperthermophilic, chemolithoautotrophic Archaea, represented by two new species, Ignicoccus islandicus sp nov and Ignicoccus pacificus sp nov. and Ignicoccus pacificus sp. nov, Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2000 Nov;50 Pt 6:2093-100
- Rachel R, Wyschkony I, Riehl S, Huber H (March 2002). "The ultrastructure of Ignicoccus: evidence for a novel outer membrane and for intracellular vesicle budding in an archaeon". Archaea 1 (1): 9–18. doi:10.1155/2002/307480. PMC 2685547. PMID 15803654.
- Huber H, Hohn MJ, Rachel R, Fuchs T, Wimmer VC, Stetter KO. A new phylum of Archaea represented by a nanosized hyperthermophilic symbiont, Nature, 417(6884):27-8, 2002
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