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Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Verrucomicrobia

Class: Spartobacteria

Order: Cthnoniobacterales

Family: Chthoniobacteraceae

Genus: Chthoniobacter

Species: Chthoniobacter flavus Ellin428


Chthoniobacter flavus is the only species in the Genus currently and was discovered in the soil of a rye grass and clover pasture in Victoria, Australia in 2002. The bacteria is gram negative and rod shaped, the cells are yellow and rod-shaped. Pure culture has been derived of the species. Closest relatives include a partial length sequence from forest soil (98.3%-99.5%), as well as Xiphinemato- bacter spp. (91.5%-92.2%), which is a ectoparasitic root nematodes found in soil.

Ecology and Significance

The bacteria grows on many of the saccharides that can be found in plant biomass, but is incapable of growth on amino acids or organic acids other than pyruvate, therefore the bacteria is likely involved in the breakdown of organic carbon in the soil. Studying this bacteria and ones like it can help us understand carbon cycling in the soil better, this could have huge impacts on the agricultural and natural sciences. Increasing soil carbon can increase overall soil health as well as increasing its water holding capacity, cation exchange capacity, and can prevent nutrient leaching and erosion. This could increase agriculture's resilience to climate change.

Genome Structure

7,848,700 base pairs long

61% GC Content


The family's only species is an free living aerobic chemohetertroph, this is because the species metabolizes organic carbon from plant biomass and uses chemical energy because it has no access to sunlight. It is important to remember that air is a component of soil and although depth and pore size affect oxygen concentration, soils are usually aerobic and therefore the microbe has access to oxygen.


[1] Sangwan, Parveen, Xiaolei Chen, Philip Hugenholtz, and Peter H. Janssen. “Chthoniobacter Flavus Gen. Nov., Sp. Nov., the First Pure-Culture Representative of Subdivision Two, Spartobacteria Classis Nov., of the Phylum Verrucomicrobia.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 70, no. 10 (October 2004): 5875–81. doi:10.1128/AEM.70.10.5875-5881.2004.

[2]Kant, Ravi, Mark W. J. van Passel, Airi Palva, Susan Lucas, Alla Lapidus, Tijana Glavina del Rio, Eileen Dalin, et al. “Genome Sequence of Chthoniobacter Flavus Ellin428, an Aerobic Heterotrophic Soil Bacterium▿.” Journal of Bacteriology 193, no. 11 (June 2011): 2902–3. doi:10.1128/JB.00295-11.

[3] Victoria, R., Banwart, S.A., Black, H., Ingram, J., Joosten, H., Milne, E., Noellemeyer, E., 2012. Benefits of soil carbon. Foresight Chapter in UNEP Yearbook 2012. United Nations Environment Programme, ISBN 9789280732146, pp. 19–33.



Page authored by Chelsea Zegler, student of Prof. Katherine Mcmahon at University of Wisconsin - Madison.