Created by George Rice, Montana State University

SSV Infection
TEM taken by Blake Wiedenheft at Montana State University

Image of Sulfolobus from Yellowstone. The host cell shown here is infected with SSV type virus. Virus is seen vaguely inside the cell, attached to the S-layer cell surface, and clustered heavily around the cell. Cell diameter is approximately one micron.

Why Sulfolobus makes a good viral host for use in the lab:

  • Sulfolobus is an extremely thermophilic archaea with optimum growth conditions of 80 degrees centigrade and pH 3 (boiling acid).
  • It is an aerobic heterotroph, meaning that it can grow in the lab without needing protection from the ambient atmosphere, and it grows on a variety of carbon sources including yeast and several sugars. It also can metabolize elemental sulfur (shown in the pool below) as a primary energy source.
  • Two genomes have been completely sequenced (P2 and Tokodaii).
  • Numerous viruses and plasmids of Sulfolobus have been previously been identified. Many of these extrachromosomal elements have also been sequenced.
  • It can be easily cultured from samples taken from any thermal feature in the world that supports favorable growth conditions (80 degrees, pH 3).

Author shown with Mark Young of Montana State University checking temp and pH of thermal pool containing nearly pure elemental sulfur.