Marixanthomonas ophiurae

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Higher order taxa

Marixanthomonas ophiurae: Bacteria (domain), bacteroidetes (phylum), flavobacteria (class), flavobacteriales (order), flavobacteriaceae (family), Marixanthomonas (genus), ophiurae (species)


Marixanthomonas: mare refers to the sea; xanthos is the greek word for yellow; and monas refers to a unicellular organism, a monad. Therefore: Marixanthomonas is a marine yellow monad.

Marixanthomonas ophiurae: Ophiura, a class of invertebrates belonging to the Ophiuroidea (brittle star), which is the source of isolation of the type strain.

Description and significance

Brittle stars

Marizanthomonas ophiurae was isolated from a brittle star located in the Fiji Sea. This type of star has longer arms than sea stars that radiate out from a small central disc. It uses these arms to help it eat and swim. Brittle stars like to live under rocks during the day and swim away in a snake-like fashion when disturbed. They feed on plankton by raising their arms into the water above them. Although this star was found in a tropical climate, brittle stars can live in any marine climate. They can live for up to five years.

The particular microbe isolated from the brittle star in this study was found in a tropical marine habitat, at a depth of about 480 meters in December (Fiji's summer) of 1991.

Fiji Sea

The Fiji Sea is a tropical marine habitat. Although the brittle star may be able to survive in a range of marine habitats, Marixanthomonas ophiurae may not be able to.

Similarities to other microbes

The 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that Marixanthomonas ophiurae forms distinct evolutionary lineage within the family Flavobacteriaceae displaying a 92.3–91.9 % sequence similarity with respect to the Salegentibacter species. Phylogenetic analysis based on the 16S rRNA gene sequence of Marixanthomonas ophiurae revealed that Salegentibacter holothuriorum and Salegentibacter flavus are the closest phylogenetic neighbors, showing a 92.3 and 92.1 % sequence similarity respectively. The type strain of the type species of the genus, Salegentibacter salegens and the distantly related species Mesonia algae each show less than 92 % sequence similarity with respect to Marixanthomonas ophiurae.

Current Research

Marixanthomonas ophiurae was found during a survey of the biodiversity of micro-organisms associated with marine invertebrates in the Fiji Sea. The goal of the study that identified this microbe was to gather taxonomic data about it.


Romanenko, L. A., Uchino, M., Frolova, G. M., & Mikhailov, V. V. (2007). Marixanthomonas ophiurae gen. nov., sp. nov., a marine bacterium of the family Flavobacteriaceae isolated from a deep-sea brittle star. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 57(3), 457-462.

Edited by Christina Kozak, student of Rachel Larsen at the University of Southern Maine

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