Saccharophagus degradans

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A Microbial Biorealm page on the genus Saccharophagus degradans


Higher order taxa

Bacteria; Proteobacteria; Gammaproteobacteria; Alteromonadales; Alteromonadaceae


Saccharophagus degradans 2-40

Description and significance

Describe the appearance, habitat, etc. of the organism, and why it is important enough to have its genome sequenced. Describe how and where it was isolated. Include a picture or two (with sources) if you can find them.

Genome structure

Saccharophagus degradans has a circular chromosome that is 5,057,531 bp long. There are 4,008 proten coding genes out of a total of 4,067. The genome also includes 50 structural RNAs (5). What originally set S. degradans apart from the Microbulbifer and Teredinibacter groups was that it’s G+C content was 45.8% as compared to the 57-59% and 49-51% of Microbulbifer and Teredinibacter bacteria respectively (1). So far there have been identified 180 open reading frames (ORF) that code for carbohydrases. There are also around 112 ORFs that contain catalytic and/or carbohydrate-binding modules (CBM) with specificity for plant-derived polysaccharides (3). There are no known plasmids associated with Saccharophagus degradans that have been identified at this point.

Cell structure and metabolism

Describe any interesting features and/or cell structures; how it gains energy; what important molecules it produces.


Saccharophagus degradans performs a vital role in the marine carbon cycle. It is part of an emerging group of bacteria that is responsible for the degradation of CPs produced by other organisms in the ocean. It was found to grow at an optimum of 30 C and pH of 7.5. It is unable to live without sea salt and requires an optimum of 3.5% (1). Since S. degradans has 10 distinct CP-degrading systems with more carbohydrases and accessory proteins than any marine bacterium studied so far (3), it is easily one of the most versatile CP degraders. This versatility helps keep the many different CPs from accumulating in the ocean. In the case of cellulose degradation, often a multitude of microorganisms are required. However, S. degradans can completely degrade cellulose by itself (3). This is important for places where S. degradans may be the only cellulose degrader.


There are no known pathological characteristics of Saccharophagus degradans.

Application to Biotechnology

The enzymes which allow S. degradans to break down 10 different CPs are constantly being isolated and studied. As the human population continues to grow, more pressure is being put on food production. As a result of the increased production, agricultural, aquacultural, and algalcultural wastes are starting to become serious problems. Cellulose, chitin, and agar are the major waste products. Using S. degradans as a powerful bioremediation tool may help curb the increase in waste products. Also, CPs can be hydrolyzed into usuable feedstock. For many developing countries that have severe shortages of feedstock, research is being made into harnessing S. degradans’ hydrolyzing power (6).

Current Research

Enter summaries of the most recent research here--at least three required


[Sample reference] Takai, K., Sugai, A., Itoh, T., and Horikoshi, K. "Palaeococcus ferrophilus gen. nov., sp. nov., a barophilic, hyperthermophilic archaeon from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent chimney". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 2000. Volume 50. p. 489-500.

Edited by student of Rachel Larsen