Novosphingobium aromaticivorans DSM 12444
The Genus Novosphingobium (Sphingomonas) was first described by Yabuuchi et al. (1990) and later amended by Takeuchi et al. (1993). Members of this genus belong to the alpha Proteobacterial subdivision and are characterized as gram-negative, non-spore forming rods displaying a single polar flagellum when they are motile. They are yellow pigmented and obligately aerobic. Unlike typical gram-negative bacteria, they do not have lipopolysaccharide, but rather glycosphingolipid, which is usually a membrane component of eukaryotic cells. The thermoreversible gel formation and solution viscosity properties of these glycosphingolipids (sphingans) make them of technical interest and useful in applications for a wide range of food and pharmaceutical products (Pollock 1993). An example of its use is as an agar substitute for growth of thermophiles (marketed as Gelrite). The role of sphingans has been proposed to be important in colonization of eukaryotic organisms including plants, marine organisms, and humans by Novosphingobium. Novosphingobium strains have been isolated from a wide variety of sources including soil, both marine and fresh waters, marine life, and from plants. Many of the first isolates assigned to this genus (S. paucimobilis) were derived from human clinical specimens or water samples taken from hospital environments and members of this species have been subsequently shown to behave as opportunistic pathogens (Miyazaka et. al. 1995). More recently, Novosphingobium has been linked to the death of coral reefs off the Florida coast (Richardson, et al. 1998). Although there is an emerging role of Novosphingobium species in disease, members of this genus are best known for their ability to degrade a wide variety of aromatic hydrocarbons.