Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A hydrogenosome with a genome


Some anaerobic protozoa and chytridiomycete fungi possess membrane-bound organelles known as hydrogenosomes. Hydrogenosomes are about 1 micrometre in diameter and are so called because they produce molecular hydrogen1. It has been postulated that hydrogenosomes evolved from mitochondria by the concomitant loss of their respiration and organellar genomes1,4, and so far no hydrogenosome has been found that has a genome1,2. Here we provide evidence for the existence of a hydrogenosomal genome of mitochondrial descent, and show that the anaerobic heterotrichous ciliate Nyctotherus ovalis possesses a new type of nuclear-encoded ‘iron-only’ hydrogenase enzyme.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Electron micrographs of Nyctotherus ovalis showing hydrogenosomes.
Figure 2: The Novalis genome.


  1. 1

    Müller, M. J. Gen. Microbiol. 139, 2879–2889 (1993).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Palmer, J. D. Science 275, 790–791 (1997).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Martin, W. & Müller, M. Nature 392, 37–41 (1998).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Fenchel, T. & Finlay, B. J. Ecology and Evolution in Anoxic Worlds (Oxford Univ. Press, 1995).

  5. 5

    van Hoek, A. H. A. M., van Alen, T. A., Sprakel, V. S. I., Hackstein, J. H. P. & Vogels, G. D. Mol. Biol. Evol. 15, 1195–1206 (1998).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Bui, E. T. N. & Johnson, P. J. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 76, 305–310 (1996).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Seilhamer, J. J., Olsen, G. J. & Cummings, D. J. J. Biol. Chem. 259, 5167–5172 (1984).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Schnare, M. N., Heinonen, T. Y., Young, P. G. & Gray, M. W. J. Biol. Chem. 261, 5187–5193 (1986).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Casalot, L. et al. Anaerobe 4, 45–55 (1998).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Hoffman, D. C., Anderson, R. C., Dubois, M. L. & Prescott, D. M. Nucl. Acids Res. 23, 1279–1283 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Embley, T. M. et al. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 262, 87–93 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Akhmanova, A., Voncken, F., van Alen, T. et al. A hydrogenosome with a genome. Nature 396, 527–528 (1998).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing