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1.  Responses of Haloarchaea to Simulated Microgravity 
Astrobiology  2011;11(3):199-205.
Various effects of microgravity on prokaryotes have been recognized in recent years, with the focus on studies of pathogenic bacteria. No archaea have been investigated yet with respect to their responses to microgravity. For exposure experiments on spacecrafts or on the International Space Station, halophilic archaea (haloarchaea) are usually embedded in halite, where they accumulate in fluid inclusions. In a liquid environment, these cells will experience microgravity in space, which might influence their viability and survival. Two haloarchaeal strains, Haloferax mediterranei and Halococcus dombrowskii, were grown in simulated microgravity (SMG) with the rotary cell culture system (RCCS, Synthecon). Initially, salt precipitation and detachment of the porous aeration membranes in the RCCS were observed, but they were avoided in the remainder of the experiment by using disposable instead of reusable vessels. Several effects were detected, which were ascribed to growth in SMG: Hfx. mediterranei's resistance to the antibiotics bacitracin, erythromycin, and rifampicin increased markedly; differences in pigmentation and whole cell protein composition (proteome) of both strains were noted; cell aggregation of Hcc. dombrowskii was notably reduced. The results suggest profound effects of SMG on haloarchaeal physiology and cellular processes, some of which were easily observable and measurable. This is the first report of archaeal responses to SMG. The molecular mechanisms of the effects induced by SMG on prokaryotes are largely unknown; haloarchaea could be used as nonpathogenic model systems for their elucidation and in addition could provide information about survival during lithopanspermia (interplanetary transport of microbes inside meteorites). Key Words: Haloferax mediterranei—Halococcus dombrowskii—Simulated microgravity—Rotary cell culture system—Antibiotic resistance—Lithopanspermia. Astrobiology 11, 199–205.
PMCID: PMC3079168  PMID: 21417742
2.  Raman spectroscopy in halophile research 
Raman spectroscopy plays a major role in robust detection of biomolecules and mineral signatures in halophile research. An overview of Raman spectroscopic investigations in halophile research of the last decade is given here to show advantages of the approach, progress made as well as limits of the technique. Raman spectroscopy is an excellent tool to monitor and identify microbial pigments and other biomolecules in extant and extinct halophile biomass. Studies of bottom gypsum crusts from salterns, native evaporitic sediments, halite inclusions, and endoliths as well as cultures of halophilic microorganisms permitted to understand the content, distribution, and behavior of important molecular species. The first papers describing Raman spectroscopic detection of microbiological and geochemical key markers using portable instruments are highlighted as well.
PMCID: PMC3857566  PMID: 24339823
Raman spectroscopy; halophilic; salterns; gypsum crusts; compatible solutes; carotenoids
3.  Acidophilic Halophilic Microorganisms in Fluid Inclusions in Halite from Lake Magic, Western Australia 
Astrobiology  2013;13(9):850-860.
Lake Magic is one of the most extreme of hundreds of ephemeral acid-saline lakes in southern Western Australia. It has pH as low as 1.7, salinity as high as 32% total dissolved solids, temperatures ranging from 0°C to 50°C, and an unusually complex aqueous composition. Optical petrography, UV-vis petrography, and laser Raman spectrometry were used to detect microorganisms and organic compounds within primary fluid inclusions in modern bedded halite from Lake Magic. Rare prokaryotes appear as 1–3 μm, bright cocci that fluoresce green with UV-vis illumination. Dimpled, 5–7 μm yellow spherules that fluoresce blue with UV-vis illumination are interpreted as Dunaliella algae. Yellow-orange beta-carotene crystals, globules, and coatings are characterized by orange-red fluorescence and three distinct Raman peaks. Because acid saline lakes are good Mars analogues, the documentation of prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and organic compounds preserved in the halite here has implications for the search for life on Mars. Missions to Mars should incorporate such in situ optical and chemical examination of martian evaporites for possible microorganisms and/or organic compounds in fluid inclusions. Key Words: Acid—Extremophiles—Western Australia—Fluid inclusions—Lake Magic—Dunaliella. Astrobiology 13, 850–860.
PMCID: PMC3778947  PMID: 23971647
4.  Investigating the Effects of Simulated Martian Ultraviolet Radiation on Halococcus dombrowskii and Other Extremely Halophilic Archaebacteria 
Astrobiology  2009;9(1):104-112.
The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
PMCID: PMC3182532  PMID: 19215203
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation
5.  The Miniaturized Raman System and Detection of Traces of Life in Halite from the Atacama Desert: Some Considerations for the Search for Life Signatures on Mars 
Astrobiology  2012;12(12):1095-1099.
Raman spectroscopy is being adopted as a nondestructive instrumentation for the robotic exploration of Mars to search for traces of life in the geological record. Here, miniaturized Raman spectrometers of two different types equipped with 532 and 785 nm lasers for excitation, respectively, were compared for the detection of microbial biomarkers in natural halite from the hyperarid region of the Atacama Desert. Measurements were performed directly on the rock as well as on the homogenized, powdered samples prepared from this material—the effects of this sample preparation and the excitation wavelength employed in the analysis are compared and discussed. From these results, 532 nm excitation was found to be superior for the analysis of powdered specimens due to its high sensitivity toward carotenoids and hence a higher capability for their detection at relatively low concentration in bulk powdered specimens. For the same reason, this wavelength was a better choice for the detection of carotenoids in direct measurements made on the rock samples. The 785 nm excitation wavelength, in contrast, proved to be more sensitive toward the detection of scytonemin. Key Words: Miniaturized portable Raman—Atacama—Mars—Biomarker detection. Astrobiology 12, 1095–1099.
PMCID: PMC3522129  PMID: 23151300
6.  Diagnostic potential of near-infrared Raman spectroscopy in the stomach: differentiating dysplasia from normal tissue 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(2):457-465.
Raman spectroscopy is a molecular vibrational spectroscopic technique that is capable of optically probing the biomolecular changes associated with diseased transformation. The purpose of this study was to explore near-infrared (NIR) Raman spectroscopy for identifying dysplasia from normal gastric mucosa tissue. A rapid-acquisition dispersive-type NIR Raman system was utilised for tissue Raman spectroscopic measurements at 785 nm laser excitation. A total of 76 gastric tissue samples obtained from 44 patients who underwent endoscopy investigation or gastrectomy operation were used in this study. The histopathological examinations showed that 55 tissue specimens were normal and 21 were dysplasia. Both the empirical approach and multivariate statistical techniques, including principal components analysis (PCA), and linear discriminant analysis (LDA), together with the leave-one-sample-out cross-validation method, were employed to develop effective diagnostic algorithms for classification of Raman spectra between normal and dysplastic gastric tissues. High-quality Raman spectra in the range of 800–1800 cm−1 can be acquired from gastric tissue within 5 s. There are specific spectral differences in Raman spectra between normal and dysplasia tissue, particularly in the spectral ranges of 1200–1500 cm−1 and 1600–1800 cm−1, which contained signals related to amide III and amide I of proteins, CH3CH2 twisting of proteins/nucleic acids, and the C=C stretching mode of phospholipids, respectively. The empirical diagnostic algorithm based on the ratio of the Raman peak intensity at 875 cm−1 to the peak intensity at 1450 cm−1 gave the diagnostic sensitivity of 85.7% and specificity of 80.0%, whereas the diagnostic algorithms based on PCA-LDA yielded the diagnostic sensitivity of 95.2% and specificity 90.9% for separating dysplasia from normal gastric tissue. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves further confirmed that the most effective diagnostic algorithm can be derived from the PCA-LDA technique. Therefore, NIR Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with multivariate statistical technique has potential for rapid diagnosis of dysplasia in the stomach based on the optical evaluation of spectral features of biomolecules.
PMCID: PMC2361456  PMID: 18195711
dysplasia; near-infrared Raman spectroscopy; optical diagnosis; stomach; principal components analysis; linear discriminant analysis
7.  The effects of extremes of pH on the growth and transcriptomic profiles of three haloarchaea 
F1000Research  2014;3:168.
The halophilic archaea (haloarchaea) live in saline environments, which are found across the globe.  In addition to salinity, these niches can be quite dynamic and experience extreme conditions such as low oxygen content, radiation (gamma and UV), pH and temperature.  However, of all the naturally occurring stresses faced by the haloarchaea, only one, pH, has not been previously investigated in regard to the changes induced in the transcriptome. Therefore, we endeavored to determine the responses in three haloarchaea: Halorubrum lacusprofundi (Hla), Haloferax volcanii (Hvo), and Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 (NRC-1) to growth under acidic and alkaline pH. Our observations showed that the transcriptomes of Hvo and NRC-1 regulated stress, motility, and ABC transporters in a similar manner, which is in line with previous reports from other prokaryotes when grown in an acidic environment.  However, the pattern for Hla was more species specific. For alkaline stress, all three haloarchaea responded in a manner similar to well-studied archaea and bacteria showing the haloarchaeal response was general to prokaryotes. Additionally, we performed an analysis on the changes in the transcriptomes of the three haloarchaea when shifting from one pH extreme to the other. The results showed that the transcriptomes of all three haloarchaea respond more similarly when moving from alkaline to acidic conditions compared to a shift in the opposite direction. Interestingly, our studies also showed that individual genes of multiple paralogous gene families ( tbp, tfb, orc/ cdc6, etc.) found in the haloarchaea were regulated under specific stresses thereby providing evidence that they modulate the response to various environmental stresses. The studies described here are the first to catalog the changes in the haloarchaeal transcriptomes under growth in extreme pH and help us understand how life is able to thrive under all conditions present on Earth and, if present, on extraterrestrial bodies as well.
PMCID: PMC4176423  PMID: 25285207
8.  The effects of extremes of pH on the growth and transcriptomic profiles of three haloarchaea 
F1000Research  2014;3:168.
The halophilic archaea (haloarchaea) live in saline environments which are found across the globe.  In addition to salinity, these niches can be quite dynamic and experience extreme conditions such as low oxygen content, radiation (gamma and UV), pH and temperature.  However, of all the naturally occurring stresses faced by the haloarchaea, only one, pH, has not been previously reported on. Therefore, we endeavored to determine the responses of the transcriptomes of three haloarchaea (Hla, Hvo, and NRC-1) to growth under acidic and alkaline pH. Our observations showed that the transcriptomes of Hvo and NRC-1 respond in a similar manner to each other as well as other prokaryotes when grown in an acidic environment, while the pattern for Hla was dissimilar. For alkaline stress, all three haloarchaea responded in a manner similar to well-studied archaea and bacteria and had four-times more significantly regulated transcripts in common, compared to acidic growth. Additionally, we performed an analysis on the changes in the transcriptomes of the three haloarchaea when shifting from one pH extreme to the other. The results showed that the transcriptomes of all three haloarchaea respond more similarly when moving from alkaline to acidic conditions compared to moving from an acidic to alkaline environment. Interestingly, our studies also showed that individual genes of multiple paralogous gene families ( tbp, tfb, orc/ cdc6, etc.) found in the haloarchaea were regulated under specific stresses thereby providing evidence that they modulate the response to various environmental stresses. The studies described here are the first to catalog the changes in the haloarchaeal transcriptomes under growth in extreme pH and help us understand how life is able to thrive under all conditions present on Earth and, if present, on extraterrestrial bodies as well.
PMCID: PMC4176423  PMID: 25285207
9.  Excitation energy-dependent nature of Raman scattering spectrum in GaInNAs/GaAs quantum well structures 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):656.
The excitation energy-dependent nature of Raman scattering spectrum, vibration, electronic or both, has been studied using different excitation sources on as-grown and annealed n- and p-type modulation-doped Ga1 − xInxNyAs1 − y/GaAs quantum well structures. The samples were grown by molecular beam technique with different N concentrations (y = 0%, 0.9%, 1.2%, 1.7%) at the same In concentration of 32%. Micro-Raman measurements have been carried out using 532 and 758 nm lines of diode lasers, and the 1064 nm line of the Nd-YAG laser has been used for Fourier transform-Raman scattering measurements. Raman scattering measurements with different excitation sources have revealed that the excitation energy is the decisive mechanism on the nature of the Raman scattering spectrum. When the excitation energy is close to the electronic band gap energy of any constituent semiconductor materials in the sample, electronic transition dominates the spectrum, leading to a very broad peak. In the condition that the excitation energy is much higher than the band gap energy, only vibrational modes contribute to the Raman scattering spectrum of the samples. Line shapes of the Raman scattering spectrum with the 785 and 1064 nm lines of lasers have been observed to be very broad peaks, whose absolute peak energy values are in good agreement with the ones obtained from photoluminescence measurements. On the other hand, Raman scattering spectrum with the 532 nm line has exhibited only vibrational modes. As a complementary tool of Raman scattering measurements with the excitation source of 532 nm, which shows weak vibrational transitions, attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy has been also carried out. The results exhibited that the nature of the Raman scattering spectrum is strongly excitation energy-dependent, and with suitable excitation energy, electronic and/or vibrational transitions can be investigated.
PMCID: PMC3552774  PMID: 23190628
GaInNAs; Photoluminescence; Raman; FT-Raman; FT-IR; Local modes; 71.55.Eq; 63.22.+m
10.  Femtosecond broadband stimulated Raman spectroscopy: Apparatus and methods 
The Review of scientific instruments  2004;75(11):4971-4980.
The laser, detection system, and methods that enable femtosecond broadband stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) are presented in detail. FSRS is a unique tool for obtaining high time resolution (<100 fs) vibrational spectra with an instrument response limited frequency resolution of <10 cm–1. A titanium:Sapphire-based laser system produces the three different pulses needed for FSRS: (1) A femtosecond visible actinic pump that initiates the photochemistry, (2) a narrow bandwidth picosecond Raman pump that provides the energy reservoir for amplification of the probe, and (3) a femtosecond continuum probe that is amplified at Raman resonances shifted from the Raman pump. The dependence of the stimulated Raman signal on experimental parameters is explored, demonstrating the expected exponential increase in Raman intensity with concentration, pathlength, and Raman pump power. Raman spectra collected under different electronic resonance conditions using highly fluorescent samples highlight the fluorescence rejection capabilities of FSRS. Data are also presented illustrating our ability: (i) To obtain spectra when there is a large transient absorption change by using a shifted excitation difference technique and (ii) to obtain high time resolution vibrational spectra of transient electronic states.
PMCID: PMC1712672  PMID: 17183413
11.  Raman and SEM analysis of a biocolonised hot spring travertine terrace in Svalbard, Norway 
A profile across 8 layers from a fossil travertine terrace from a low temperature geothermal spring located in Svalbard, Norway has been studied using both Raman spectroscopy and SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) techniques to identify minerals and organic life signals.
Calcite, anatase, quartz, haematite, magnetite and graphite as well as scytonemin, three different carotenoids, chlorophyll and a chlorophyll-like compound were identified as geo- and biosignatures respectively, using 785 and/or 514 nm Raman laser excitation wavelengths. No morphological biosignatures representing remnant microbial signals were detected by high-resolution imaging, although spectral analyses indicated the presence of organics. In contrast, in all layers, Raman spectra identified a series of different organic pigments indicating little to no degradation or change of the organic signatures and thus indicating the preservation of fossil biomarker compounds throughout the life time of the springs despite the lack of remnant morphological indicators.
With a view towards planetary exploration we discuss the implications of the differences in Raman band intensities observed when spectra were collected with the different laser excitations. We show that these differences, as well as the different detection capability of the 785 and 514 nm laser, could lead to ambiguous compound identification. We show that the identification of bio and geosignatures, as well as fossil organic pigments, using Raman spectroscopy is possible. These results are relevant since both lasers have been considered for miniaturized Raman spectrometers for planetary exploration.
PMCID: PMC2110888  PMID: 17697380
12.  Detection and Monitoring of Neurotransmitters - a Spectroscopic Analysis 
We demonstrate that confocal Raman mapping spectroscopy provides rapid, detailed and accurate neurotransmitter analysis, enabling millisecond time resolution monitoring of biochemical dynamics. As a prototypical demonstration of the power of the method, we present real-time in vitro serotonin, adenosine, and dopamine detection, and dopamine diffusion in an inhomogeneous organic gel, which was used as a substitute for neurologic tissue.
Materials and Methods
Dopamine, adenosine and serotonin were used to prepare neurotransmitter solutions in DI water. The solutions were applied to the surfaces of glass slides, where they inter-diffused. Raman mapping was achieved by detecting non-overlapping spectral signatures characteristic of the neurotransmitters with an alpha 300 WITec confocal Raman system, using 532 nm Nd:YAG laser excitation. Every local Raman spectrum was recorded in milliseconds and complete Raman mapping in a few seconds.
Without damage, dyeing, or preferential sample preparation, confocal Raman mapping provided positive detection of each neurotransmitter, allowing association of the high-resolution spectra with specific micro-scale image regions. Such information is particularly important for complex, heterogeneous samples, where changes in composition can influence neurotransmission processes. We also report an estimated dopamine diffusion coefficient two orders of magnitude smaller than that calculated by the flow-injection method.
Accurate nondestructive characterization for real-time detection of neurotransmitters in inhomogeneous environments without the requirement of sample labeling is a key issue in neuroscience. Our work demonstrates the capabilities of Raman spectroscopy in biological applications, possibly providing a new tool for elucidating the mechanism and kinetics of deep brain stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3537900  PMID: 22989218
Basic science; Raman spectroscopy; neurotransmitters; brain
13.  NIR Raman spectra of whole human blood: Effects of laser-induced and in vitro hemoglobin denaturation 
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry  2013;406(1):10.1007/s00216-013-7427-7.
Care must be exercised in the use of Raman spectroscopy for the identification of blood in forensic applications. The 785 nm excited Raman spectra of dried whole human blood are shown to be exclusively due to oxyhemoglobin (oxyHb) or related hemoglobin denaturation products. Raman spectra of whole blood are reported as a function of incident 785 nm laser power and features attributable to heme aggregates are observed for fluences on the order of 104 W/cm2 and 20 sec signal collection times. In particular, the formation of this local heating induced heme aggregate product is indicated by a red-shifting of several heme porphyrin ring vibrational bands, the appearance of a large broad band at 1248 cm−1, the disappearance of the Fe-O2 stretching and bending bands, and the observation of a large overlapping fluorescence. This denaturation product is also observed in the low power excited Raman spectrum of older ambient air exposed bloodstains (≥ two weeks). The 785 nm excited Raman spectrum of methemoglobin whole blood is reported and increasing amounts of this natural denaturation product can also be identified in dried whole blood Raman spectra particularly when the blood has been stored prior to drying. These results indicate that to use 785 nm excited Raman spectra as an identification methodology for forensic applications to maximum effectiveness, incident laser powers need to be kept low to eliminate variable amounts of heme aggregate spectral components contributing to the signal and the natural aging process of hemoglobin denaturation needs to be accounted for. This also suggests that there is a potential opportunity for 785 nm excited Raman to be a sensitive indicator of dried bloodstain age at crime scenes.
PMCID: PMC3882123  PMID: 24162820
Raman Spectroscopy; Bioanalytical methods; Biological samples; Forensics
14.  Raman Tweezers Spectroscopy of Live, Single Red and White Blood Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10427.
An optical trap has been combined with a Raman spectrometer to make high-resolution measurements of Raman spectra of optically-immobilized, single, live red (RBC) and white blood cells (WBC) under physiological conditions. Tightly-focused, near infrared wavelength light (1064 nm) is utilized for trapping of single cells and 785 nm light is used for Raman excitation at low levels of incident power (few mW). Raman spectra of RBC recorded using this high-sensitivity, dual-wavelength apparatus has enabled identification of several additional lines; the hitherto-unreported lines originate purely from hemoglobin molecules. Raman spectra of single granulocytes and lymphocytes are interpreted on the basis of standard protein and nucleic acid vibrational spectroscopy data. The richness of the measured spectrum illustrates that Raman studies of live cells in suspension are more informative than conventional micro-Raman studies where the cells are chemically bound to a glass cover slip.
PMCID: PMC2861675  PMID: 20454686
15.  On the Response of Halophilic Archaea to Space Conditions 
Life : Open Access Journal  2014;4(1):66-76.
Microorganisms are ubiquitous and can be found in almost every habitat and ecological niche on Earth. They thrive and survive in a broad spectrum of environments and adapt to rapidly changing external conditions. It is of great interest to investigate how microbes adapt to different extreme environments and with modern human space travel, we added a new extreme environment: outer space. Within the last 50 years, technology has provided tools for transporting microbial life beyond Earth’s protective shield in order to study in situ responses to selected conditions of space. This review will focus on halophilic archaea, as, due to their ability to survive in extremes, they are often considered a model group of organisms to study responses to the harsh conditions associated with space. We discuss ground-based simulations, as well as space experiments, utilizing archaea, examining responses and/or resistance to the effects of microgravity and UV in particular. Several halophilic archaea (e.g., Halorubrum chaoviator) have been exposed to simulated and actual space conditions and their survival has been determined as well as the protective effects of halite shown. Finally, the intriguing potential of archaea to survive on other planets or embedded in a meteorite is postulated.
PMCID: PMC4187150  PMID: 25370029
halophilic archaea; space conditions; UV
16.  Drop Coating Deposition Raman Spectroscopy of Fluorescein Isothiocyanate Labeled Protein 
Applied spectroscopy  2010;64(10):1078-1085.
Using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as the model protein normal Raman spectra of Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) -conjugated protein was systematically studied for the first time using both solution and the drop coating deposition Raman (DCDR) sampling techniques. The FITC-BSA Raman spectra are dominated by the FITC Raman features that are strongly pH dependent. Current DCDR detection sensitivity obtained with a 10:1 FITC-BSA conjugate is 45 fmol in terms of total protein consumption and ~15 attomol at laser probed volume. Unlike the FITC-BSA solution Raman spectra where the FITC Raman features are photostable, concurrent FITC fluorescence and Raman photobleaching is observed in the DCDR spectra of FITC-BSA. While the FITC Raman photobleaching follows a single exponential decay function with a time constant independent of the FITC labeling ratio, the fluorescence background photobleaching is much more complicated and it depends strongly on the FITC labeling ratio and sample conditions. Mechanistically, the FITC Raman photobleaching is believed to be due to photochemical reaction of the FITC molecules in the electronically excited state. The FITC fluorescence photobleaching involves both concentration quenching and photochemical quenching, and the latter may involve a photochemical intermediate that is fluorescence inactive but Raman active.
PMCID: PMC3218434  PMID: 20925976
Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC); Bovine serum albumin (BSA); DCDR; Photobleaching
17.  Spherical particles of halophilic archaea correlate with exposure to low water activity – implications for microbial survival in fluid inclusions of ancient halite 
Geobiology  2012;10(5):424-433.
Viable extremely halophilic archaea (haloarchaea) have been isolated from million-year-old salt deposits around the world; however, an explanation of their supposed longevity remains a fundamental challenge. Recently small roundish particles in fluid inclusions of 22 000- to 34 000-year-old halite were identified as haloarchaea capable of proliferation (Schubert BA, Lowenstein TK, Timofeeff MN, Parker MA, 2010, Environmental Microbiology, 12, 440–454). Searching for a method to produce such particles in the laboratory, we exposed rod-shaped cells of Halobacterium species to reduced external water activity (aw). Gradual formation of spheres of about 0.4 μm diameter occurred in 4 m NaCl buffer of aw ≤ 0.75, but exposure to buffered 4 m LiCl (aw ≤ 0.73) split cells into spheres within seconds, with concomitant release of several proteins. From one rod, three or four spheres emerged, which re-grew to normal rods in nutrient media. Biochemical properties of rods and spheres were similar, except for a markedly reduced ATP content (about 50-fold) and an increased lag phase of spheres, as is known from dormant bacteria. The presence of viable particles of similar sizes in ancient fluid inclusions suggested that spheres might represent dormant states of haloarchaea. The easy production of spheres by lowering aw should facilitate their investigation and could help to understand the mechanisms for microbial survival over geological times.
PMCID: PMC3495301  PMID: 22804926
18.  Micro-Raman Spectroscopy and Univariate Analysis for Monitoring Disease Follow-Up 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2011;11(9):8309-8322.
Micro-Raman spectroscopy is a very promising tool for medical applications, thanks to its sensitivity to subtle changes in the chemical and structural characteristics of biological specimens. To fully exploit these promises, building a method of data analysis properly suited for the case under study is crucial. Here, a linear or univariate approach using a R2 determination coefficient is proposed for discriminating Raman spectra even with small differences. The validity of the proposed approach has been tested using Raman spectra of high purity glucose solutions collected in the 600 to 1,600 cm−1 region and also from solutions with two known solutes at different concentrations. After this validation step, the proposed analysis has been applied to Raman spectra from oral human tissues affected by Pemphigus Vulgaris (PV), a rare life-threatening autoimmune disease, for monitoring disease follow-up. Raman spectra have been obtained in the wavenumber regions from 1,050 to 1,700 cm−1 and 2,700 to 3,200 cm−1 from tissues of patients at different stages of pathology (active PV, under therapy and PV in remission stage) as confirmed by histopathological and immunofluorescence analysis. Differences in the spectra depending on tissue illness stage have been detected at 1,150–1,250 cm−1 (amide III) and 1,420–1,450 cm−1 (CH3 deformation) regions and around 1,650 cm−1 (amide I) and 2,930 cm−1 (CH3 symmetric stretch). The analysis of tissue Raman spectra by the proposed univariate method has allowed us to effectively differentiate tissues at different stages of pathology.
PMCID: PMC3231482  PMID: 22164077
oral tissues; Raman microspectroscopy; univariate data analysis; follow-up monitoring
19.  Evaluation of the LIVE/DEAD BacLight Kit for Detection of Extremophilic Archaea and Visualization of Microorganisms in Environmental Hypersaline Samples 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2004;70(11):6884-6886.
Extremophilic archaea were stained with the LIVE/DEAD BacLight kit under conditions of high ionic strength and over a pH range of 2.0 to 9.3. The reliability of the kit was tested with haloarchaea following permeabilization of the cells. Microorganisms in hypersaline environmental samples were detectable with the kit, which suggests its potential application to future extraterrestrial halites.
PMCID: PMC525124  PMID: 15528557
20.  Orientation Determination of Protein Helical Secondary Structure Using Linear and Nonlinear Vibrational Spectroscopy 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2009;113(36):12169-12180.
In this paper, we systematically presented the orientation determination of protein helical secondary structures using vibrational spectroscopic methods, particularly the nonlinear Sum Frequency Generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy, along with linear vibrational spectroscopic techniques such as infrared spectroscopy and Raman scattering. SFG amide I signals can be collected using different polarization combinations of the input laser beams and output signal beam to measure the second order nonlinear optical susceptibility components of the helical amide I modes, which are related to their molecular hyperpolarizability elements through the orientation distribution of these helices. The molecular hyperpolarizability elements of amide I modes of a helix can be calculated based on the infrared transition dipole moment and Raman polarizability tensor of the helix; these quantities are determined by using the bond additivity model to sum over the individual infrared dipole transition moments and Raman polarizability tensors, respectively, of the peptide units (or the amino acid residues). The computed overall infrared transition dipole moment and Raman polarizability tensor of a helix can be validated by experimental data using polarized infrared and polarized Raman spectroscopy on samples with well-aligned helical structures.
From the deduced SFG hyperpolarizability elements and measured SFG second order nonlinear susceptibility components, orientation information regarding helical structures can be determined. Even though such orientation information can also be measured using polarized infrared or polarized Raman amide I signals, SFG has a much lower detection limit, which can be used to study the orientation of a helix when its surface coverage is much lower than a monolayer. In addition, the combination of different vibrational spectroscopic techniques, e.g., SFG and Attenuated Total Reflectance – Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy, provides more measured parameters for orientation determination, aiding in the deduction of more complicated orientation distributions. In this paper, we discussed two types of helices: the α-helix and 3–10 helix. However, the orientation determination method presented here is general, and thus can be applied to study other helices as well.
The calculations of SFG amide I hyperpolarizability components for α-helical and 3–10 helical structures with different chain lengths have also been performed. It was found that when the helices reach a certain length, the number of peptide units in the helix should not alter the data analysis substantially. It was shown in the calculation, however, that when the helix chain is short, the SFG hyperpolarizability component ratios can vary substantially when the chain length is changed. Because 3–10 helical structures can be quite short in proteins, the orientation determination for a short 3–10 helix needs to take into account the number of peptide units in the helix.
PMCID: PMC2799944  PMID: 19650636
21.  Novel Insights into the Diversity of Catabolic Metabolism from Ten Haloarchaeal Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20237.
The extremely halophilic archaea are present worldwide in saline environments and have important biotechnological applications. Ten complete genomes of haloarchaea are now available, providing an opportunity for comparative analysis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report here the comparative analysis of five newly sequenced haloarchaeal genomes with five previously published ones. Whole genome trees based on protein sequences provide strong support for deep relationships between the ten organisms. Using a soft clustering approach, we identified 887 protein clusters present in all halophiles. Of these core clusters, 112 are not found in any other archaea and therefore constitute the haloarchaeal signature. Four of the halophiles were isolated from water, and four were isolated from soil or sediment. Although there are few habitat-specific clusters, the soil/sediment halophiles tend to have greater capacity for polysaccharide degradation, siderophore synthesis, and cell wall modification. Halorhabdus utahensis and Haloterrigena turkmenica encode over forty glycosyl hydrolases each, and may be capable of breaking down naturally occurring complex carbohydrates. H. utahensis is specialized for growth on carbohydrates and has few amino acid degradation pathways. It uses the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway instead of the oxidative pathway, giving it more flexibility in the metabolism of pentoses.
These new genomes expand our understanding of haloarchaeal catabolic pathways, providing a basis for further experimental analysis, especially with regard to carbohydrate metabolism. Halophilic glycosyl hydrolases for use in biofuel production are more likely to be found in halophiles isolated from soil or sediment.
PMCID: PMC3102087  PMID: 21633497
22.  Fluorescent Fingerprints of Endolithic Phototrophic Cyanobacteria Living within Halite Rocks in the Atacama Desert 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(10):2998-3006.
Halite deposits from the hyperarid zone of the Atacama Desert reveal the presence of endolithic microbial colonization dominated by cyanobacteria associated with heterotrophic bacteria and archaea. Using the λ-scan confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) option, this study examines the autofluorescence emission spectra produced by single cyanobacterial cells found inside halite rocks and by their photosynthetic pigments. Photosynthetic pigments could be identified according to the shapes of the emission spectra and wavelengths of fluorescence peaks. According to their fluorescence fingerprints, three groups of cyanobacterial cells were identified within this natural extreme microhabitat: (i) cells producing a single fluorescence peak corresponding to the emission range of phycobiliproteins and chlorophyll a, (ii) cells producing two fluorescence peaks within the red and green signal ranges, and (iii) cells emitting only low-intensity fluorescence within the nonspecific green fluorescence signal range. Photosynthetic pigment fingerprints emerged as indicators of the preservation state or viability of the cells. These observations were supported by a cell plasma membrane integrity test based on Sytox Green DNA staining and by transmission electron microscopy ultrastructural observations of cyanobacterial cells.
PMCID: PMC4018928  PMID: 24610843
23.  An Archaeal Chromosomal Autonomously Replicating Sequence Element from an Extreme Halophile, Halobacterium sp. Strain NRC-1 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(20):5959-5966.
We report on the identification and first cloning of an autonomously replicating sequence element from the chromosome of an archaeon, the extreme halophile Halobacterium strain NRC-1. The putative replication origin was identified by association with the orc7 gene and replication ability in the host strain, demonstrated by cloning into a nonreplicating plasmid. Deletion analysis showed that sequences located up to 750 bp upstream of the orc7 gene translational start, plus the orc7 gene and 50 bp downstream, are sufficient to endow the plasmid with replication ability, as judged by expression of a plasmid-encoded mevinolin resistance selectable marker and plasmid recovery after transformation. Sequences located proximal to the two other chromosomally carried haloarchaeal orc genes (orc6 and orc8) are not able to promote efficient autonomous replication. Located within the 750-bp region upstream of orc7 is a nearly perfect inverted repeat of 31 bp, which flanks an extremely AT-rich (44%) stretch of 189 bp. The replication ability of the plasmid was lost when one copy of the inverted repeat was deleted. Additionally, the inverted repeat structure near orc7 homologs in the genomic sequences of two other halophiles, Haloarcula marismortui and Haloferax volcanii, is highly conserved. Our results indicate that, in halophilic archaea, a chromosomal origin of replication is physically linked to orc7 homologs and that this element is sufficient to promote autonomous replication. We discuss the finding of a functional haloarchaeal origin in relation to the large number of orc1-cdc6 homologs identified in the genomes of all haloarchaea to date.
PMCID: PMC225043  PMID: 14526006
24.  Amide I vibrational mode suppression in surface (SERS) and tip (TERS) enhanced Raman spectra of protein specimens 
The Analyst  2013;138(6):1665-1673.
Surface- and tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS and TERS) are modern spectroscopic techniques, which are becoming widely used and show a great potential for the structural characterisation of biological systems. Strong enhancement of the Raman signal through localised surface plasmon resonance enables chemical detection at the single-molecule scale. Enhanced Raman spectra collected from biological specimens, such as peptides, proteins or microorganisms, were often observed to lack the amide I band, which is commonly used as a marker for the interpretation of secondary protein structure. The cause of this phenomenon was unclear for many decades. In this work, we investigated this phenomenon for native insulin and insulin fibrils using both TERS and SERS and compared these spectra to the spectra of well-defined homo peptides. The results indicate that the appearance of the amide I Raman band does not correlate with the protein aggregation state, but is instead determined by the size of the amino acid side chain. For short model peptides, the absence of the amide I band in TERS and SERS spectra correlates with the presence of a bulky side chain. Homo-glycine and -alanine, which are peptides with small side chain groups (H and CH3, respectively), exhibited an intense amide I band in almost 100% of the acquired spectra. Peptides with bulky side chains, such as tyrosine and tryptophan, exhibited the amide I band in 70% and 31% of the acquired spectra, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3586543  PMID: 23330149
25.  Enthalpic and entropic stages in α-helical peptide unfolding, from laser T-jump/UV Raman spectroscopy 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2007;129(42):12801-12808.
The α-helix is a ubiquitous structural element in proteins, and a number of studies have addressed the mechanism of helix formation and melting in simple peptides. However, fundamental issues remain to be resolved, particularly the temperature (T) dependence of the rate. In this work we report application of a novel kHz repetition rate solid-state tunable NIR (pump) and deep UV Raman (probe) laser system to study the dynamics of helix unfolding in Ac-GSPEA3KA4KA4-CO-D-Arg-CONH2, a peptide designed for helix stabilization in aqueous solution. Its T-dependent UV resonance Raman (UVRR) spectra, excited at 197 nm for optimal enhancement of amide vibrations, were decomposed into variable contributions from helix and coil spectra. The helix fractions derived from the UVRR spectra and from far UV CD spectra were coincident at low T, but deviated increasingly at high T, the UVRR curve giving higher helix content. This difference is consistent with the greater sensitivity of UVRR spectra to local conformation than CD. After a laser-induced T-jump the UVRR-determined helix fractions defined mono-exponential decays, with time-constants of ~120 ns, independent of the final T (Tf =18 to 61°C), provided the initial T (Ti) was held constant (60C). However, there was also a prompt loss of helicity, whose amplitude increased with increasing Tf, thereby defining an initial enthalpic phase, distinct from the subsequent entropic phase. These phases are attributed to disruption of H-bonds followed by reorientation of peptide links, as the chain is extended. When Ti was raised in parallel with Tf (10° C T-jumps), the prompt phase merged into an accelerating slow phase, an effect attributable to the shifting distribution of initial helix lengths. Even greater acceleration with rising Ti has been reported in T-jump experiments monitored by IR and fluorescence spectroscopies. This difference is attributable to the longer range character of these probes, whose responses are therefore more strongly weighted toward the H-bond-breaking enthalpic process.
PMCID: PMC2887291  PMID: 17910449

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