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Scientific classification
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Planctomycetes
Families & Genera

Planctomycetes are a phylum of aquatic bacteria and are found in samples of brackish, and marine and fresh water. They reproduce by budding. In structure, the organisms of this group are ovoid and have a holdfast, at the tip of a thin cylindrical extension from the cell body called the stalk, at the nonreproductive end that helps them to attach to each other during budding.

Cavalier-Smith has postulated that the Planctomycetes are within the clade Planctobacteria in the larger clade Gracilicutes, but this is not generally accepted.


The bacteria belonging to this group lack peptidoglycan, (also called murein) in their cell walls, which is an important heteropolymer present in most bacterial cell walls that serves as a protective component. Instead their walls are made up of glycoprotein which is rich in glutamate. For a long time Planctomycetes were thought to be unique in that, unlike other prokaryotes, they contained intracellular compartments separated by membranes. Compartments that were often quoted in literature were paryphoplasm (ribosome-free space), pirellulosome (ribosome-containing space) and even a nucleoid surrounded by a double membrane.[1] However, Santarella-Mellwig et al. have recently shown (2013), that the apparent internal compartments seen in microscope images of Gemmata obscuriglobus (a Planctomycetes species) are in fact interconnected and are surrounded by only a single highly convoluted membrane. Therefore, like other gram-negative bacteria Gemmata has only 2 compartments present, namely cytoplasm and periplasm. The authors calculated that excess of membrane triplicates the surface area of the cell relative to its volume and they suggest that this might have enabled Gemmata to retain an ancient pathway of sterol synthesis.[2]

It has recently been shown that Gemmata obscuriglobus is able to take in large molecules via a process which in some ways resembles endocytosis, the process used by eukaryotic cells to engulf external items.[3][4]


RNA sequencing shows that the planctomycetes are related to the Verrucomicrobia and possibly the Chlamydiae.[5] A number of essential pathways are not organised as operons, which is unusual for bacteria.[6] A number of genes have been found (through sequence comparisons) that are similar to genes found in eukaryotes. One such example is a gene sequence (in Gemmata obscuriglobus) that was found to have significant homology to the integrin alpha-V, a protein that is important in transmembrane signal transduction in eukaryotes.[7]

Life cycle[edit]

The life cycle of many planctomycetes involves alternation between sessile cells and flagellated swarmer cells. The sessile cells bud to form the flagellated swarmer cells which swim for a while before settling down to attach and begin reproduction.


The currently accepted taxonomy is based on the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LSPN) [8] and the phylogeny is based on 16S rRNA-based LTP release 111 by The All-Species Living Tree Project [9]

Phycisphaera mikrensis Fukunaga et al. 2010


?Candidatus Nostocoida limicola III

Candidatus Scalindua

?Candidatus S. arabica Woebken et al. 2008

?Candidatus S. marina Van de Vossenberg et al. 2007

?Candidatus S. profunda Van De Vossenberg et al. 2008

?Candidatus S. richardsii Fuchsman et al. 2012

Candidatus S. wagneri Schmid et al. 2003

Candidatus S. sorokinii Kuypers et al. 2003

Candidatus S. brodae Schmid et al. 2003

Candidatus Kuenenia stuttgartiensis Schmid et al. 2000

Candidatus Brocadia

Candidatus B. anammoxidans Jetten et al. 2001

Candidatus B. brasiliensis Araujo et al. 2011

Candidatus B. caroliniensis

Candidatus B. fulgida Kartal et al. 2004

Candidatus B. sinica Hu et al. 2010

Candidatus Anammoxoglobus propionicus Kartal et al. 2006

Candidatus Jettenia asiatica Quan et al. 2008


?P. bekefiiGimesi 1924 (type sp.)

?P. guttaeformis(ex Hortobágyi 1965) Starr and Schmidt 1984

?P. stranskae(ex Wawrik 1952) Starr and Schmidt 1984

P. brasiliensis Schlesner 1990

P. maris (ex Bauld and Staley 1976) Bauld and Staley 1980

P. limnophilus Hirsch and Müller 1986

Schlesneria paludicola Kulichevskaya et al. 2007


R. baltica Schlesner et al. 2004 (type sp.)

R. europaeaFrank 2011

R. maioricaFrank 2011

R. sallentinaFrank 2011

Blastopirellula marina (Schlesner 1987) Schlesner et al. 2004

Pirellula staleyi Schlesner and Hirsch 1987

Gemmata obscuriglobus Franzmann and Skerman 1985

Telmatocola sphagniphila Kulichevskaya et al. 2012

Zavarzinella formosa Kulichevskaya et al. 2009

Isosphaera pallida (ex Woronichin 1927) Giovannoni et al. 1995

Aquisphaera giovannonii Bondoso et al. 2011


?S. mucilaginosaZaicnikova et al. 2011

S. acidiphila Kulichevskaya et al. 2008 (type sp.)

S. rosea Kulichevskaya et al. 2012

♠ Strains found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) but not listed in the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LSPN)
♪ Prokaryotes where no pure (axenic) cultures are isolated or available, i. e. not cultivated or can not be sustained in culture for more than a few serial passages


  1. ^ Glöckner, Frank O., et al. "Complete genome sequence of the marine planctomycete Pirellula sp. strain 1." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100.14 (2003): 8298-8303.
  2. ^ Santarella-Mellwig, R., Pruggnaller, S., Roos, N., Mattaj, I., & Devos, D. (2013). "Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of Bacteria with a Complex Endomembrane System". PLoS Biology 11. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001565. 
  3. ^ Lonhienne, Thierry G. A.; Sagulenko, Evgeny; Webb, Richard I.; Lee, Kuo-Chang; Franke, Josef; Devos, Damien P.; Nouwens, Amanda; Carroll, Bernard J. & Fuerst, John A. (2010). "Endocytosis-like protein uptake in the bacterium Gemmata obscuriglobus". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (29): 12883–12888. doi:10.1073/pnas.1001085107. PMC 2919973. PMID 20566852. 
  4. ^ Williams, Caroline (2011). "Who are you calling simple?". New Scientist 211 (2821): 38–41. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(11)61709-0 
  5. ^ Hou S., Makarova K.S., Saw J.H., Senin P., Ly B.V., Zhou Z., Ren Y., Wang J., Galperin M.Y., Omelchenko M.V., Wolf Y.I., Yutin N., Koonin E.V., Stott M.B., Mountain B.W., Crowe M.A., Smirnova A.V., Dunfield P.F., Feng L., Wang L., Alam M. 2008 Complete genome sequence of the extremely acidophilic methanotroph isolate V4, Methylacidiphilum infernorum, a representative of the bacterial phylum Verrucomicrobia. Biol. Direct. 3(1):26.
  6. ^ F. O. Glöckner, M. Kube, M. Bauer, H. Teeling, T. Lombardot, W. Ludwig, D. Gade, A. Beck, K. Borzym, K. Heitmann, R. Rabus, H. Schlesner, R. Amann, and R. Reinhardt (2003) Complete genome sequence of the marine planctomycete Pirellula sp. strain 1 PNAS 100:14 8298-8303 doi=10.1073/pnas.1431443100 pmid= 12835416 pmc=166223
  7. ^ Cheryl Jenkins, Vishram Kedar, and John A. Fuerst (2002) Gene discovery within the planctomycete division of the domain Bacteria Genome Biology 3:6 1-11
  8. ^ See the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature. Data extracted from the "Planctomycetes". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  9. ^ See the All-Species Living Tree Project [1]. Data extracted from the "16S rRNA-based LTP release 111 (full tree)". Silva Comprehensive Ribosomal RNA Database. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 

External links[edit]