Thermotoga elfii

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Thermotoga elfii
Scientific classification
T. elfii
Binomial name
Thermotoga elfii
Ravot et al. 1995

Thermotoga elfii is a rod-shaped, glucose-fermenting bacterium. The type strain of T. elfii is SEBR 6459T.[1] The genus Thermotoga was originally thought to be strictly found surrounding submarine hydrothermal vents, but this organism was subsequently isolated in African oil wells in 1995.[1] A protective outer sheath allows this microbe to be thermophilic.[1] This organism cannot function in the presence of oxygen making it strictly anaerobic.[1] Some research proposes that the thiosulfate-reducing qualities in this organism could lead to decreased bio-corrosion in oil equipment in industrial settings.[2]



The genus Thermotoga, previously thought only to be found around submarine hydrothermal vents, was discovered in North Sea oil wells.[1] Due to this discovery, other wells in the area began being investigated, leading to the discovery of Thermotoga elfii in African oil wells in April 1995.[1] T. elfii was gathered in a one-liter sample at the head of a well at 68 °C.[1] Ravot et al. isolated this species by cultivation on a basal medium containing numerous different nutrients and resources (water, salt, glucose, sodium acetate, etc.) in the lab and then by using repeated trials of the agar shake dilution technique.[1] These scientists concluded by determining the samples' purity through microscopy.[1]


The first name of Thermotoga elfii is derived from the Greek root "therm," which means heat.[3] "Toga," which is a Roman term for an outer garment, is where the second part of the genus name originated.[3] This is due to the outer sheath that wraps around the bacteria to protect it from the extreme temperature often associated with this thermophile.[1] The latter name is derived from Elf-Aquitaine, the French oil company that owned the oil wells where T. elfii was first discovered.[1]

Physiology and Metabolism[edit]

Therotoga elfii colonies of 1 millimeter have been observed in a laboratory setting, but the actual structure of the rod-shaped T. elfii is between 0.5-3 micrometers long.[1] Its protective outer sheath is the defining characteristic, which aided in providing T. elfii its name.[1] This structure balloons over each side of the organism and protects it from extreme heat.[1] When a Gram stain is performed on this organism, a gram-negative result is expected.[1] T. elfii has flagella uniformly distributed around its body, making it a peritrichous bacteria.[1] It is also an obligate anaerobe, meaning it cannot tolerate oxygen.[1] Electron acceptors include thiosulfate, arabinose, bio-trypticase, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, ribose, sucrose, and xylose.[1] Electron donors include acetate, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.[1]

Genome and Phylogeny[edit]

The 16s RNA gene is 1,519 bases long with a GC content of 39.6 mol%.[1] Due to T. elfii’s relatively new status, much information about the number of genes is still unknown.[1] However, a 91.9% relative of this species, Thermotoga maritima, has been documented as having 1.86 million base pairs with 1,877 predicted coding regions.[4] The phylogenic family for Thermotoga elfii contains organisms such as Thermotoga thermarum, Thermotoga maritima, and Thermosipho africanus, which have a roughly 90% relation to this organism.[1]


The genus Thermotoga contains some of the most thermophilic microorganisms known.[5] It is composed of species that are thermophilic and hyperthermophilic which can thrive in temperatures as high as 80 °C.[5] The optimum growth temperature for Thermotoga elfii, however, is 66 °C.[1] The optimum pH is 7.5 and the optimum salinity is 1.2%.[1]


Industrial Applications[edit]

The discovery of T. elfii has been deemed significant as it has led to other discoveries of methanogens, thermophiles, and sulfate-reducing bacteria.[1] This organism and the others discovered in this unique environment can help make progress in microbe-assisted oil recovery processes.[6] Thiosulfate, often implicated in the corrosion of metals used in oil pipelines, is reduced to sulfide by Thermotoga elfii, which leads many scientists to believe it has a major role in preserving oil extraction equipment.[1][6][2]

Environmental Applications[edit]

In many anoxic thermal marine hot springs, thiosulfate oxidation often does not occur or occurs at an extremely slow rate.[2] These thermophilic thiosulfate-reducers can play a key role in the mineralization of organic compounds to simpler, plant-accessible forms.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z RAVOT, G.; MAGOT, M.; FARDEAU, M.-L.; PATEL, B. K. C.; PRENSIER, G.; EGAN, A.; GARCIA, J.-L.; OLLIVIER, B. (1995-04-01). "Thermotoga elfii sp. nov., a Novel Thermophilic Bacterium from an African Oil-Producing Well". International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. 45 (2): 308–314. doi:10.1099/00207713-45-2-308. PMID 7537064.
  2. ^ a b c d Ravot, G.; Ollivier, B.; Magot, M.; Patel, B.; Crolet, J.; Fardeau, M.; Garcia, J. (1995-05-01). "Thiosulfate reduction, an important physiological feature shared by members of the order thermotogales". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 61 (5): 2053–2055. ISSN 0099-2240. PMC 1388453. PMID 16535035.
  3. ^ a b "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, ἀάατος". Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  4. ^ Nelson, Karen E.; Clayton, Rebecca A.; Gill, Steven R.; Gwinn, Michelle L.; Dodson, Robert J.; Haft, Daniel H.; Hickey, Erin K.; Peterson, Jeremy D.; Nelson, William C. (1999-05-27). "Evidence for lateral gene transfer between Archaea and Bacteria from genome sequence of Thermotoga maritima". Nature. 399 (6734): 323–329. Bibcode:1999Natur.399..323N. doi:10.1038/20601. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 10360571.
  5. ^ a b Frock, Andrew D.; Notey, Jaspreet S.; Kelly, Robert M. (2010-09-01). "The genus Thermotoga: recent developments". Environmental Technology. 31 (10): 1169–1181. doi:10.1080/09593330.2010.484076. ISSN 0959-3330. PMC 3752655. PMID 20718299.
  6. ^ a b Bernard, F.P.; Connan, Jacques; Magot, Michel (1992). "Indigenous Microorganisms in Connate Water of Many Oil Fields: A New Tool in Exploration and Production Techniques". SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. doi:10.2118/24811-ms.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dworkin, Martin, and Stanley Falkow, eds. The Prokaryotes: Vol. 7: Proteobacteria: Delta and Epsilon Subclasses. Deeply Rooting Bacteria. Vol. 7. Springer, 2006.
  • Devrije, T (2002). "Pretreatment of Miscanthus for hydrogen production by Thermotoga elfii". International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. 27 (11–12): 1381–1390. doi:10.1016/S0360-3199(02)00124-6. ISSN 0360-3199.
  • Fardeau, Marie-Laure; Goulhen, Florence; Bruschi, Mireille; Khelifi, Nadia; Cayol, Jean-Luc; Ignatiadis, Ioannis; Guyot, François; Ollivier, Bernard (2009). "Archaeoglobus fulgidusandThermotoga elfii, Thermophilic Isolates from Deep Geothermal Water of the Paris Basin". Geomicrobiology Journal. 26 (2): 119–130. doi:10.1080/01490450802674970. ISSN 0149-0451.

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