Skip to main content

Complete genome sequence of Acetohalobium arabaticum type strain (Z-7288T)


Acetohalobium arabaticum Zhilina and Zavarzin 1990 is of special interest because of its physiology and its participation in the anaerobic C1-trophic chain in hypersaline environments. This is the first completed genome sequence of the family Halobacteroidaceae and only the second genome sequence in the order Halanaerobiales. The 2,469,596 bp long genome with its 2,353 protein-coding and 90 RNA genes is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.


Strain Z-7288T (= DSM 5501 = ATCC 49924) is the type strain of the species Acetohalobium arabaticum, which is the type species of the genus Acetohalobium [1,2]. The genus name derives from the Latin word ‘acetum’, meaning vinegar, and the Greek words ‘halos’ and ‘bios’, meaning salt and life, respectively, in order to indicate an acetate-producing organism living in salt [3]. The species name derives from Arabat, a peninsula between the Sea of Azov and Sivash [3], since the strain was isolated from lagoons of the Arabat spit (East Crimea) which separates Sivash lake from the Sea of Azov [2]. Currently, this is the only known strain in the genus Acetohalobium. A. arabaticum participates together with other halophilic bacteria and the genera Methanohalophilus and Methanohalobium in the C1-trophic chain in hypersaline environments [2]. Here we present a summary classification and a set of features for A. arabaticum Z-7288T, together with the description of the complete genomic sequencing and annotation.

Classification and features

The cells of A. arabaticum are bent rods, motile by one to two subterminal flagella (Table 1) [2]. The flagella are stated in the original description [2], though they are not visible in our study (Figure 1). The cells are single, in pairs or form short chains, being 0.7–1 µm in diameter and 1–5 µm in length [2]. Other typical cell aggregates are palisades and ribbons, which are formed by adhesion of cells having intimate contact (Figure 1) [2]. The multiplication is by binary fission. The outer membrane is typical of a Gram-negative organism [2]. Growth is completely inhibited by 100 µM/ml streptomycin, benzylpenicillin, bacitracin, erythromycin, gentamycin, kanamycin, vancomycin or tetracyclin [2]. Strain Z-7288T is obligately anaerobic, tolerating up to 12 mM H2S. Neither O2, S2O32-, SO42-, nor S0 can serve as electron acceptors. Strain Z-7288T requires a salt concentration of 10–25% NaCl, the optimum is 15–18% NaCl [2]. The optimal pH is between 7.6 and 8.0 [2].

Figure 1.

Scanning electron micrograph of A. arabaticum Z-7288T

Table 1. Classification and general features of A. arabaticum Z-7288T according to the MIGS recommendations [4]

A. arabaticum exhibits three modes of nutrition [2]: It is chemolithoautotrophic using H2 together with CO2 or CO; it is methylotrophic using trimethylamine (TMA); and it is organotrophic using betaine, lactate, pyruvate or histidine. Carbohydrates are not utilized. No growth occurs on methanol, monomethylamine (MMA), dimethylamine (DMA), dimethylglycine, choline or sarcosine [2]. When grown on TMA, an equimolar amount of acetate is formed along with lesser amounts of DMA and MMA [2]. Betaine is degraded mainly to acetate and minor amounts of methylamines [2].

Carbonic anhydrase (CA; carbonate hydrolyase, EC has been studied in strain Z-7288T and in other acetogenic bacteria [16]. This zinc-containing enzyme is found in animals, plants, bacteria and archaea and catalyzes the following reaction: CO2 + H2O ↔ HCO3- and H+ [16]. Further biochemical details of CA are described elsewhere [16]. Strain Z-7288T displayed CA activities similar to those of other CA-containing bacteria [1618]. With lactate as cultivation substrate the specific activity of CA in strain Z-7288T has been determined to be 2.1± 0.4 units per mg or protein [16]. It has been suggested that one physiological function for CA in acetogens is to increase intracellular CO2 levels [16].

The 16S rRNA genes of the other type strains in the family Halobacteroidaceae share between 85.9% (Orenia sivashensis [19]) and 95.1% (Sporohalobacter lortetii [20]) sequence identity with strain Z-7288T [21]. Uncultured clone sequences from environmental samples and metagenomic surveys do not surpass 84–86% sequence similarity to the 16S rRNA gene sequence of strain Z-7288T, indicating a lack of further members of the genus Acetohalobium in the habitats screened thus far (status June 2010).

Figure 2 shows the phylogenetic neighborhood of A. arabaticum Z-7288T in a 16S rRNA based tree. The sequences of the five 16S rRNA gene copies in the genome of Acetohalobium arabaticum Z-7288T differ from each other by up to one nucleotide, and differ by up to three nucleotides from the previously published 16S rRNA sequence generated from DSM 5501 (X89077).

Figure 2.

Phylogenetic tree highlighting the position of A. arabaticum Z-7288T relative to the type strains of the other genera within the order Halanaerobiales. The trees were inferred from 1,308 aligned characters [22,23] of the 16S rRNA gene sequence under the maximum likelihood criterion [24] and rooted in accordance with the current taxonomy [25]. The branches are scaled in terms of the expected number of substitutions per site. Numbers above branches are support values from 300 bootstrap replicates [26] if larger than 60%. Lineages with type strain genome sequencing projects registered in GOLD [27] are shown in blue, published genomes [28] in bold.


No chemotaxonomic data are currently available for the genus Acetohalobium.

Genome sequencing and annotation

Genome project history

This organism was selected for sequencing on the basis of its phylogenetic position [29], and is part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project [30]. The genome project is deposited in the Genome OnLine Database [27] and the complete genome sequence is deposited in GenBank. Sequencing, finishing and annotation were performed by the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI). A summary of the project information is shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Genome sequencing project information

Growth conditions and DNA isolation

A. arabaticum Z-7288T, DSM 5501, was grown anaerobically in DSMZ medium 494 (Acetohalobium medium) [31] at 37°C. DNA was isolated from 0.5–1 g of cell paste using MasterPure Gram Positive DNA Purification Kit (Epicentre MGP04100). Two µl lysozyme and five µl mutanolysin were added to the standard lysis solution for 40min at 37°C followed by 1 hour incubation on ice after the MPC-step.

Genome sequencing and assembly

The genome of A. arabaticum Z-7288T was sequenced at using a combination of Illumina and 454 technologies. An Illumina GAii shotgun library with reads of 483 Mb a 454 Titanium draft library with average read length of 341 bases, and a paired end 454 library with average insert size of 10 kb were generated for this genome. All general aspects of library construction and sequencing can be found at Illumina sequencing data was assembled with VELVET and the consensus sequences were shredded into 1.5 kb overlapped fake reads and assembled together with the 454 data. Draft assemblies were based on 241 Mb 454 draft data, and 454 paired end data. Newbler parameters are -consed -a 50 -l 350 -g -m -ml 20. The initial assembly contained 72 contigs in one scaffold. The initial 454 assembly was converted into a phrap assembly by making fake reads from the consensus, collecting the read pairs in the 454 paired end library. The Phred/Phrap/Consed software package was used for sequence assembly and quality assessment in the following finishing process [32]. After the shotgun stage, reads were assembled with parallel phrap (High Performance Software, LLC). Possible mis-assemblies were corrected with gapResolution (, Dupfinisher [32], or sequencing cloned bridging PCR fragments with subcloning or transposon bombing (Epicentre Biotechnologies, Madison, WI). Gaps between contigs were closed by editing in Consed, by PCR and by Bubble PCR primer walks (J.-F. Cheng, unpublished). A total of 292 additional reactions were necessary to close gaps and to raise the quality of the finished sequence. Illumina reads were used to improve the final consensus quality using an in-house developed tool (the Polisher [33],). The completed genome sequences have an error rate of less than 1 in 100,000 bp.

Genome annotation

Genes were identified using Prodigal [34] as part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory genome annotation pipeline, followed by a round of manual curation using the JGI GenePRIMPpipeline [35]. The predicted CDSs were translated and used to search the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) nonredundant database, UniProt, TIGRFam, Pfam, PRIAM, KEGG, COG, and InterPro databases. Additional gene prediction analysis and functional annotation was performed within the Integrated Microbial Genomes-Expert Review (IMG-ER) platform [36].

Genome properties

The genome consists of a 2,469,596 bp long chromosome with a 36.6% GC content (Table 3 and Figure 3). Of the 2,443 genes predicted, 2,353 were protein-coding genes, and 90 RNAs; Seventy-one pseudogenes were also identified. The majority of the protein-coding genes (76.4%) were assigned a putative function while the remaining ones were annotated as hypothetical proteins. The distribution of genes into COGs functional categories is presented in Table 4.

Figure 3.

Graphical circular map of the genome. From outside to the center: Genes on forward strand (color by COG categories), Genes on reverse strand (color by COG categories), RNA genes (tRNAs green, rRNAs red, other RNAs black), GC content, GC skew.

Table 3. Genome Statistics
Table 4. Number of genes associated with the general COG functional categories


  1. 1.

    Zhilina TN, Zavarzin GA. A new extremely halophilic homoacetogen bacteria Acetohalobium arabaticum, gen. nov. sp. nov. Dokl Akad Nauk SSSR 1990; 311:745–747.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Zhilina TN, Zavarzin GA. Extremely halophilic, methylotrophic, anaerobic bacteria. FEMS Microbiol Lett 1990; 87:315–322. doi:10.1111/j.1574-6968.1990.tb04930.x

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Euzéby JP. List of bacterial names with standing in nomenclature: A folder available on the Internet. Int J Syst Bacteriol 1997; 47:590–592. PubMed doi:10.1099/00207713-47-2-590

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Field D, Garrity G, Gray T, Morrison N, Selengut J, Sterk P, Tatusova T, Thomson N, Allen MJ, Angiuoli SV, et al. The minimum information about a genome sequence (MIGS) specification. Nat Biotechnol 2008; 26:541–547. PubMed doi:10.1038/nbt1360

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Woese CR, Kandler O, Wheelis ML. Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1990; 87:4576–4579. PubMed doi:10.1073/pnas.87.12.4576

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Garrity GM, Holt JG. The Road Map to the Manual. In: Garrity GM, Boone DR, Castenholz RW (eds), Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, Second Edition, Volume 1, Springer, New York, 2001, p. 119–169.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Gibbons NE, Murray RGE. Proposals concerning the higher taxa of bacteria. Int J Syst Bacteriol 1978; 28:1–6. doi:10.1099/00207713-28-1-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    List editor. List of new names and new combinations previously effectively, but not validly, published. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2010; 60:469–472. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.022855-0

  9. 9.

    Rainey FA. 2009. Class II. Clostridia class nov., p. 736. In P. De Vos, G. Garrity, D. Jones, N. R. Krieg, W. Ludwig, F. A. Rainey, K. H. Schleifer, and W. B. Whitman (ed.), Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, 3 ed, vol. 3. Springer, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Judicial Commission of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes. The nomenclatural types of the orders Acholeplasmatales, Halanaerobiales, Halobacteriales, Methanobacteriales, Methanococcales, Methanomicrobiales, Planctomycetales, Prochlorales, Sulfolobales, Thermococcales, Thermoproteales and Verrucomicrobiales are the genera Acholeplasma, Halanaerobium, Halobacterium, Methanobacterium, Methanococcus, Methanomicrobium, Planctomyces, Prochloron, Sulfolobus, Thermococcus, Thermoproteus and Verrucomicrobium, respectively. Opinion 79. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2005; 55:517–518. PubMed doi:10.1099/ijs.0.63548-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Rainey FA, Zhilina TN, Boulygina ES, Stackebrandt E, Tourova TP, Zavarzin GA. The taxonomic status of the fermentative halophilic anaerobic bacteria: description of Haloanaerobiales ord. nov., Halobacteroidaceae fam. nov., Orenia gen. nov. and further taxonomic rearrangements at the genus and species level. Anaerobe 1995; 1:185–199. PubMed doi:10.1006/anae.1995.1018

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    List Editor. Validation of the publication of new names and new combinations previously effectively published outside the IJSB: List No. 55. Int J Syst Bacteriol 1995; 45:879–880. doi:10.1099/00207713-45-4-879

  13. 13.

    Validation of the Publication of New Names and New Combinations Previously Effectively Published Outside the IJSB. List No. 35. Int J Syst Bacteriol 1990; 40:470–471. doi:10.1099/00207713-40-4-470

  14. 14.

    Classification of bacteria and archaea in risk groups. TRBA 466.

  15. 15.

    Ashburner M, Ball CA, Blake JA, Botstein D, Butler H, Cherry JM, Davis AP, Dolinski K, Dwight SS, Eppig JT, et al. Gene Ontology: tool for the unification of biology. Nat Genet 2000; 25:25–29. PubMed doi:10.1038/75556

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Braus-Stromeyer SA, Schnappauf G, Braus GH, Gossner AS, Drake HL. Carbonic anhydrase in Acetobacterium woodii and other acetogenic bacteria. J Bacteriol 1997; 179:7197–7200. PubMed

    PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Alber BE, Ferry JG. A carbonic anhydrase from the archaeon Methanosarcina thermophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1994; 91:6909–6913. PubMed doi:10.1073/pnas.91.15.6909

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Karrasch M, Bott M, Thauer RK. Carbonic anhydrase activity in acetate grown Methanosarcina barkeri. Arch Microbiol 1989; 151:137–142. doi:10.1007/BF00414428

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Zhilina TN, Turova TP, Kuznetsov BB, Kostrikina NA, Lysenko AM. Orenia sivashensis sp. nov., a new moderately halophilic anaerobic bacterium from Lake Sivash lagoons. Mikrobiologiya 1999; 68:519–527.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Oren A, Pohla H, Stackebrandt E. Transfer of Clostridium lortetii to a new genus Sporohalobacter gen. nov. as Sporohalobacter lortetii comb. nov. and description of Sporohalobacter marismortui sp. nov. Syst Appl Microbiol 1987; 9:239–246.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Chun J, Lee JH, Jung Y, Kim M, Kim S, Kim BK, Lim YW. EzTaxon: a web-based tool for the identification of prokaryotes based on 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2007; 57:2259–2261. PubMed doi:10.1099/ijs.0.64915-0

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Castresana J. Selection of conserved blocks from multiple alignments for their use in phylogenetic analysis. MOl Biol Evol 2000; 17:540–552. PubMed

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Lee C, Grasso C, Sharlow MF. Multiple sequence alignment using partial order graphs. Bioinformatics 2002; 18:452–464. PubMed doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/18.3.452

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Stamatakis A, Hoover P, Rougemont J. A Rapid Bootstrap Algorithm for the RAxML Web Servers. Syst Biol 2008; 57:758–771. PubMed doi:10.1080/10635150802429642

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Yarza P, Richter M, Peplies J, Euzeby J, Amann R, Schleifer KH, Ludwig W, Glöckner FO, Rosselló-Móra R. The All-Species Living Tree project: A 16S rRNA-based phylogenetic tree of all sequenced type strains. Syst Appl Microbiol 2008; 31:241–250. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.syapm.2008.07.001

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Pattengale ND, Alipour M, Bininda-Emonds ORP, Moret BME, Stamatakis A. How many bootstrap replicates are necessary? Lect Notes Comput Sci 2009; 5541:184–200. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-02008-713

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Liolios K, Chen IM, Mavromatis K, Tavernarakis N, Hugenholtz P, Markovitzz VM, Kyrpides NC. The Genomes On Line Database (GOLD) in 2009: status of genomic and metagenomic projects and their associated metadata. Nucleic Acids Res 2010; 38:D346–D354. PubMed doi:10.1093/nar/gkp848

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Mavromatis K, Ivanova N, Anderson I, Lykidis A, Hooper SD, Sun H, Kunin V, Lapidus A, Hugenholtz P, Patel B, Kyrpides NC. Genome analysis of the anaerobic thermopholophilic bacterium Halothermothrix orenii. PLoS ONE 2009; 4:e4192. PubMed doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004192

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Klenk HP, Göker M. En route to a genome-based classification of Archaea and Bacteria? Syst Appl Microbiol 2010; 33:175–182. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.syapm.2010.03.003

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Wu D, Hugenholtz P, Mavromatis K, Pukall R, Dalin E, Ivanova NN, Kunin V, Goodwin L, Wu M, Tindall BJ, et al. A phylogeny-driven genomic encyclopaedia of Bacteria and Archaea. Nature 2009; 462:1056–1060. PubMed doi:10.1038/nature08656

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    List of growth media used at DSMZ:

  32. 32.

    Sims D, Brettin T, Detter J, Han C, Lapidus A, Copeland A, Glavina Del Rio T, Nolan M, Chen F, Lucas S, et al. Complete genome sequence of Kytococcus sedentarius type strain (541T). Stand Genomic Sci 2009; 1:12–20. doi:10.4056/sigs.761

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Lapidus A, LaButti K, Foster B, Lowry S, Trong S, Goltsman E. POLISHER: An effective tool for using ultra short reads in microbial genome assembly and finishing. AGBT, Marco Island, FL, 2008

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Hyatt D, Chen GL, Locascio PF, Land ML, Larimer FW, Hauser LJ. Prodigal Prokaryotic Dynamic Programming Genefinding Algorithm. BMC Bioinformatics 2010; 11:119. PubMed doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-119

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Pati A, Ivanova N, Mikhailova N, Ovchinikova G, Hooper SD, Lykidis A, Kyrpides NC. GenePRIMP: A gene prediction improvement pipeline for microbial genomes. Nat Methods 2010; 7:455–457. PubMed doi:10.1038/nmeth.1457

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Markowitz VM, Ivanova NN, Chen IMA, Chu K, Kyrpides NC. IMG ER: a system for microbial genome annotation expert review and curation. Bioinformatics 2009; 25:2271–2278. PubMed doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btp393

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to gratefully acknowledge the help of Maren Schröder (DSMZ) for growing cultures of A. arabaticum. This work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Program, and by the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344, and Los Alamos National Laboratory under contract No. DE-AC02-06NA25396, UT-Battelle and Oak Ridge National Laboratory under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725, as well as German Research Foundation (DFG) INST 599/1-2 and SI 1352/1-2.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hans-Peter Klenk.

Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sikorski, J., Lapidus, A., Chertkov, O. et al. Complete genome sequence of Acetohalobium arabaticum type strain (Z-7288T). Stand in Genomic Sci 3, 57–65 (2010).

Download citation


  • anaerobe
  • mesophile
  • halophile
  • chemolithotroph
  • methylotroph
  • organotroph
  • degradation of betaine
  • consumption of trimethylamine
  • homoacetogen
  • Clostridia
  • Halanaerobiales
  • GEBA