Methanothermobacter tenebrarum

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Fig. 1. Cell morphology of strain RMAST by phase-contrast microscopy (a) and TEM (b and c). Electron micrographs were obtained using negatively stained (b) and ultrathin-sectioned (c) cells. Bars, 10µm (a) and 1 µm (b and c).


Archaea; Euryarchaeota; Methanobacteria; Methanobacteriales; Methanobacteriaceae; Methanothermobacter


NCBI: Taxonomy

Methanothermobacter tenebrarum

Description and Significance

The cells are Gram-stain-positive, non-motile, straight rods. They often occur in pairs. Tenebrarum translates to English as "of darkness." Methanothermobacter tenebrarum lives in deep terrestrial subsurfaces.

Genome Structure

The Methanothermobacter tenebrarum genome has 1,751,377 base pairs. This strain also contains 16 structural RNAs and the chromosome consists of a circular topology.

Cell Structure, Metabolism and Life Cycle

Methanothermobacter tenebrarum is a non-motile cell with a straight rod shape. Within its environment, the cells typically occur as individuals or in pairs. Cell walls are thick, approximately 21 nm, and bundles of fimbriae occur at the poles of the cell structure. Metabolically speaking, Methanothermobacter tenebrarum is hydrogenotrophic, which means that it converts hydrogen to other compounds. In its anaerobic environment, the organism grows soley on Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide, but requires Casamino acids, tryptone, yeast extract, or vitamins for growth. Acetate also stimulates the growth of the cell. Methanothermobacter tenebrarum is a methanogen, which means that it produces methane as a product of its metabolism. Its total oxidation potenetial is only -300 mV.

Ecology and Pathogenesis

Methanothermobacter tenebrarum lives in anaerobic conditions present at the bottom of natural gas wells. It was found in natural gas fields around the city of Niigata, Japan. The natural settings associated with the cell's environment are somewhat hostile and unforgiving. Methanothermobacter tenebrarum is an extremophile, as it lives in a thermophilic environment. Average temperature ranges for the microbe range from 45 to 80 degrees C, and the optimum temperature growth range is around 70 degrees C. The pH environment for Methanothermobacter tenebrarum is relatively neutral, ranging from 5.8 to 8.7, with an optimum pH ranging from 6.9 to 7.7. The microbe is considered to contribute to methane production in in situ subsurface environments. As of now, there is no known effect of this microbe on human health. It is not known to cause disease or be detrimental to other species in any other way. Also, there are no known symbiotic realtionships between Methanothermobacter tenebrarum and other microbes within it's environment.


Nakamura et al., "Methanothermobacter tenebrarum sp. nov., a hydrogenotrophic, thermophilic methanogen isolated from gas-associated formation water of a natural gas field". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. (2013),63, 715-722.

(Natural gas fields in Niigata, Japan). [Picture] Recieved from


Page authored by Collin Rumsey and Jeffrey Hudson, students of Prof. Jay Lennon at Michigan State University.

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