A cyanobacterial strain from Lake Shar-Nuur, a freshwater lake in Mongolia, was isolated and characterized by a polyphasic approach. According to the 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequence, this strain (IPPAS B-1220) belongs to a newly described genus Desertifilum. In general, strains of Desertifilum maintain their genetic stability, as seen from the analysis of the 16S rRNA gene and 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer sequences from strains collected at distant locations. The newly discovered strain is characterized by an unusual fatty acid composition (16:1Δ7 and 16:2Δ7,10). Analysis of its draft genomic sequence reveals the presence of six genes for the acyl-lipid desaturases: two Δ9-desaturases, desC1 and desC2; two Δ12-desaturases, desA1 and desA2; one desaturase of unknown specificity, desX; and one gene for the bacillary-type desaturase, desG, which supposedly encodes an ω9-desaturase. A scheme for a fatty acid desaturation pathway that describes the biosynthesis of 16:1Δ7 and 16:2Δ7,10 fatty acids in Desertifilum is proposed.