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Free-living spirochetes from Cape Cod microbial mats detected by electron microscopySpirochetes from microbial mats and anaerobic mud samples collected in salt marshes were studied by light microscopy, whole mount and thin section transmission electron microscopy. Enriched in cellobiose-rifampin medium, selective for Spirochaeta bajacaliforniensis, seven distinguishable spirochete morphotypes were observed. Their diameters ranged from 0.17 micron to > 0.45 micron. Six of these morphotypes came from southwest Cape Cod, Massachusetts: five from Microcoleus-dominated mat samples collected at Sippewissett salt marsh and one from anoxic mud collected at School Street salt marsh (on the east side of Eel Pond). The seventh morphotype was enriched from anoxic mud sampled from the north central Cape Cod, at the Sandy Neck salt marsh. Five of these morphotypes are similar or identical to previously described spirochetes (Leptospira, Spirochaeta halophila, Spirochaeta bajacaliforniensis, Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi and Treponema), whereas the other two have unique features that suggest they have not been previously described. One of the morphotypes resembles Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi (the largest free-living spirochete described), in its large variable diameter (0.4-3.0 microns), cytoplasmic granules, and spherical (round) bodies with composite structure. This resemblance permits its tentative identification as a Sippewissett strain of Spirosymplokos deltaeiberi. Microbial mats samples collected in sterile Petri dishes and stored dry for more than four years yielded many organisms upon rewetting, including small unidentified spirochetes in at least 4 out of 100 enrichments.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Teal, T. H. (University of Massachusetts Amherst 01003-5018, United States)
Chapman, M.
Guillemette, T.
Margulis, L.
Date Acquired
August 22, 2013
Publication Date
December 1, 1996
Publication Information
Publication: Microbiologia (Madrid, Spain)
Volume: 12
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0213-4101
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
NASA Program Exobiology
Non-NASA Center
NASA Discipline Exobiology
NASA Discipline Number 52-30