Provided herein are methods for transforming a Pyrococcus furiosus with a polynucleotide. In one embodiment, the method includes contacting a P. furiosus with a polynucleotide under conditions suitable for uptake of the polynucleotide by the P. furiosus, and identifying transformants at a frequency of, for instance, at least 10.sup.3 transformants per microgram DNA. Also provided are isolated Pyrococcus furiosus having the characteristics of Pyrococcus furiosus COM1, and plasmids that include an origin of replication that functions in a Pyrococcus furiosus. The plasmid is stable in a recipient P. furiosus without selection for more than 100 generations and is structurally unchanged after replication in P. furiosus for more than 100 generations.
The present invention was made with government support under Grant No. DE-FG05-95ER20175 and Grant No. DE-FG-02-08ER64690, both awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.