The phylogenetic group termed OP5 was originally discovered in the Yellowstone National Park hot spring and proposed as an uncultured phylum; the group was afterwards analyzed by applying culture-independent approaches. Recently, a novel thermophilic chemoheterotrophic filamentous bacterium was obtained from a hot spring in Japan that was enriched through various isolation procedures. Phylogenetic analyses of the isolate have revealed that it is closely related to the OP5 phylum that has mainly been constructed with the environmental clones retrieved from thermophilic and mesophilic anaerobic environments. It appears that the lineage is independent at the phylum level in the domain Bacteria. Therefore, we designed a primer set for the 16S rRNA gene to specifically target the OP5 phylum and performed quantitative field analysis by using the real-time PCR method. Thus, the 16S rRNA gene of the OP5 phylum was detected in some hot-spring samples with the relative abundance ranging from 0.2% to 1.4% of the prokaryotic organisms detected. The physiology of the above-mentioned isolate and the related environmental clones indicated that they are scavengers contributing to the sulfur cycle in nature.
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