Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii

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Higher order taxa

Domain – Bacteria Phylum – Bacteroidetes Class – Flavobacteria Family – Flavobacteriaceae Genus – Subsaximicrobium


type strain G#7T=ACAM 1070T=CIP 108525T


Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii; a bright-orange or golden-yellow colored microbe, with colonies that are circular, convex, and has a butter like consistency (butyrous)


While exploring the maritime regions of Antarctica, scientist founded a couple new bacteria species that derive from the marine clade of the family Flavobacteriaceae. Two new strains found underneath quartz stones were grouped into two new genera called Subsaximicrobium and Subsaxibacter. Within the genus of Subsaxibacter their was only a single new species named Subsaxibacter broadyi. Within the genus of Subsaximicrobium there was two new species, one named Subsaximicrobium saxinquilinus and another named Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii.

The microbe species, Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii was named in honor of the British Antarctic microbiologist named D.D. Wynn-Williams. David Wynn-Williams dedicated his life to the study of microorganisms in polar environments. His work throughout his life focused on a wide range of topics from the ecology of nitrogen-fixing marine bacteria to becoming one of the leading soil microbiologist. Wynn-Williams then became very interested in researching Antarctic microbial populations throughout his life. He made multiple trips to the Antarctic in his life time to further his studies until he passed in 2002. Unfortunately David Wynn-Williams died at the young age of 55 from a traffic accident while jogging near his own home.


Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii is found to thrive in the Antarctic region, and this specific species is found to multiply and inhabit lithic (relating to rocks or stones) cyanobacteria biofilms under quartz stones. Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii specifically grows on the underbelly of the quartz stone partially buried in the soil of the ice-free region of Antarctica. This species grows so well in this environment because it is protected from the extremes climates, and also it lives among many chemoheterotrophic bacteria meaning that one microbe can help another gain organic molecules to get energy. This species is considered halophilic, meaning that it thrives in approximately 0.3-0.4M of NaCl, a salt rich environment.

Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii bacteria's environment must be cold, when testing the species in a laboratory, microbiologist concluded that Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii grows well in marine broth at 1-20°C but can grow even in temperatures as low as -2°C. Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii’s growth is severely slowed when temperatures reach 25°C, making Antarctica a great place for this microbe to live.


Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii is considered and chemoheterotrophic microbe, meaning that it is unable to create its own building blocks. In order to get energy this bacteria must ingest organic nitrogen sources such as sodium nitrate and ammonium chloride to get energy; and also ingest organic carbon molecules such as carbohydrates and lipids. The Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii bacteria obtains energy by oxidizing inorganic molecules in their environment. Also the Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii bacteria can not fix carbon and use organic carbon for growth. "Major fatty acids for Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii include i15 : 1v10c, a15 : 1v10c, i15 : 0, a15 : 0, 16:1v7c, 3-OH a15:0 and 3-OH i16:0. DNA G+C content is 39–40 mol%" (Bowman & Nichols, 2005).


Bowman, J.P. and D.S Nichols. 2005. “Novel members of the family Flavobacteriaceae from Antarctic maritime habitats including Subsaximicrobium wynnwilliamsii gen. nov., sp. nov., Subsaximicrobium saxinquilinus sp. nov., Subsaxibacter broadyi gen. nov., sp. Nov., Lacinutrix copapodicola gen. nov., sp. Nov., and novel species of the genera Bizionia Gelidibacter and Gillisia”. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 2005. Volume 55. p. 1471-1486.

Chemoautotrophs and Chemoheterotrophs. (n.d.). Boundless. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from metabolism/chemoautotrophs-and-chemoheterotrophs/

David Wynn-Williams. (2002, April 15). The Guardian. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from

Edited by (insert your name here!), student of Rachel Larsen at the University of Southern Maine

Paige Pilsbury