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1.  Studies on the Biodiversity of Halophilic Microorganisms Isolated from El-Djerid Salt Lake (Tunisia) under Aerobic Conditions 
Bacterial and archaeal aerobic communities were recovered from sediments from the shallow El-Djerid salt lake in Tunisia, and their salinity gradient distribution was established. Six samples for physicochemical and microbiological analyses were obtained from 6 saline sites in the lake for physico-chemical and microbiological analyses. All samples studied were considered hypersaline with NaCl concentration ranging from 150 to 260 g/L. A specific halophilic microbial community was recovered from each site, and characterization of isolated microorganisms was performed via both phenotypic and phylogenetic approaches. Only one extreme halophilic organism, domain Archaea, was isolated from site 4 only, whereas organisms in the domain Bacteria were recovered from the five remaining sampling sites that contained up to 250 g/L NaCl. Members of the domain Bacteria belonged to genera Salicola, Pontibacillus, Halomonas, Marinococcus, and Halobacillus, whereas the only member of domain Archaea isolated belonged to the genus Halorubrum. The results of this study are discussed in terms of the ecological significance of these microorganisms in the breakdown of organic matter in Lake El-Djerid and their potential for industry applications.
PMCID: PMC2804050  PMID: 20066169
2.  Solar salt lake as natural environmental source for extraction halophilic pigments 
Iranian Journal of Microbiology  2010;2(2):103-109.
Background and Objectives
Halophilic bacteria produce a variety of pigments, which function as immune modulators and have prophylactic action against cancers. In this study, colorful halophilic bacteria were isolated from solar salt lake and their pigments was extracted in optimal environmental conditions and compared with the pigments of Halorubrum sodomense ATCC 33755.
Materials and Methods
Water samples from the solar salt lake in Imam Khomeini port in southwest of Iran were used as a source for isolation of pigment-producing bacteria. Halorubrum sodomense ATCC 33755 was used as control for pigment production. The conditions for optimum growth and pigment production were established for the isolated bacteria. Pigment were analyzed by spectrophotometer, TLC and NMR assay. The 16S rRNA genes were sequenced and results were used to differentiate haloarchaea from halophilic bacterial strains.
Among the isolated strains, YS and OS strains and Halorubrum sodomense were recognized as moderate and extremely halophile with maximum growth in the presence of 15% and 30% NaCl concentrations, respectively. Experiments conducted to find out the optimum conditions for growth and pigment production temperature at 25°C, pH = 7.2 and shaking conditions at 120 rpm for three strains. Without shaking, little growth with no pigment production was observed. Total pigment produced by red, yellow and orange strains was measured at 240, 880 and 560 mg per dry cell weight respectively. Amplification yielded bands of to isolated strains only observed with bacteria primers. This result suggesting the YS and OS strains were not haloarchaea.
The isolated halophilic bacteria produced much higher amounts of pigments than Halorubrum sodomense. Photo intermediates including metarhodopsin II (meta II, λmax=380 nm) were determined as major pigment in Halorubrum sodomense.
PMCID: PMC3279771  PMID: 22347558
Halorubrum sodomense; haloarchaea; salt lake; metarhodopsin II; pigment
3.  Microbial Diversity in Water and Sediment of Lake Chaka, an Athalassohaline Lake in Northwestern China 
We employed culture-dependent and -independent techniques to study microbial diversity in Lake Chaka, a unique hypersaline lake (32.5% salinity) in northwest China. It is situated at 3,214 m above sea level in a dry climate. The average water depth is 2 to 3 cm. Halophilic isolates were obtained from the lake water, and halotolerant isolates were obtained from the shallow sediment. The isolates exhibited resistance to UV and gamma radiation. Microbial abundance in the sediments ranged from 108 cells/g at the water-sediment interface to 107 cells/g at a sediment depth of 42 cm. A major change in the bacterial community composition was observed across the interface. In the lake water, clone sequences affiliated with the Bacteroidetes were the most abundant, whereas in the sediments, sequences related to low G+C gram-positive bacteria were predominant. A similar change was also present in the archaeal community. While all archaeal clone sequences in the lake water belonged to the Halobacteriales, the majority of the sequences in the sediments were related to those previously obtained from methanogenic soils and sediments. The observed changes in the microbial community structure across the water-sediment interface were correlated with a decrease in salinity from the lake water (32.5%) to the sediments (approximately 4%). Across the interface, the redox state also changed from oxic to anoxic and may also have contributed to the observed shift in the microbial community.
PMCID: PMC1489620  PMID: 16751487
4.  The Genome Sequence of Methanohalophilus mahii SLPT Reveals Differences in the Energy Metabolism among Members of the Methanosarcinaceae Inhabiting Freshwater and Saline Environments 
Archaea  2010;2010:690737.
Methanohalophilus mahii is the type species of the genus Methanohalophilus, which currently comprises three distinct species with validly published names. Mhp. mahii represents moderately halophilic methanogenic archaea with a strictly methylotrophic metabolism. The type strain SLPT was isolated from hypersaline sediments collected from the southern arm of Great Salt Lake, Utah. Here we describe the features of this organism, together with the complete genome sequence and annotation. The 2,012,424 bp genome is a single replicon with 2032 protein-coding and 63 RNA genes and part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project. A comparison of the reconstructed energy metabolism in the halophilic species Mhp. mahii with other representatives of the Methanosarcinaceae reveals some interesting differences to freshwater species.
PMCID: PMC3017947  PMID: 21234345
5.  Screening and isolation of halophilic bacteria producing industrially important enzymes 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2012;43(4):1595-1603.
Halophiles are excellent sources of enzymes that are not only salt stable but also can withstand and carry out reactions efficiently under extreme conditions. The aim of the study was to isolate and study the diversity among halophilic bacteria producing enzymes of industrial value. Screening of halophiles from various saline habitats of India led to isolation of 108 halophilic bacteria producing industrially important hydrolases (amylases, lipases and proteases). Characterization of 21 potential isolates by morphological, biochemical and 16S rRNA gene analysis found them related to Marinobacter, Virgibacillus, Halobacillus, Geomicrobium, Chromohalobacter, Oceanobacillus, Bacillus, Halomonas and Staphylococcus genera. They belonged to moderately halophilic group of bacteria exhibiting salt requirement in the range of 3–20%. There is significant diversity among halophiles from saline habitats of India. Preliminary characterization of crude hydrolases established them to be active and stable under more than one extreme condition of high salt, pH, temperature and presence of organic solvents. It is concluded that these halophilic isolates are not only diverse in phylogeny but also in their enzyme characteristics. Their enzymes may be potentially useful for catalysis under harsh operational conditions encountered in industrial processes. The solvent stability among halophilic enzymes seems a generic novel feature making them potentially useful in non-aqueous enzymology.
PMCID: PMC3769037  PMID: 24031991
Halophiles; Biodiversity; Halophilic enzymes; Hydrolases; Solvent-stable.
6.  Evolutionary and Biotechnological Implications of Robust Hydrogenase Activity in Halophilic Strains of Tetraselmis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85812.
Although significant advances in H2 photoproduction have recently been realized in fresh water algae (e.g. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii), relatively few studies have focused on H2 production and hydrogenase adaptations in marine or halophilic algae. Salt water organisms likely offer several advantages for biotechnological H2 production due to the global abundance of salt water, decreased H2 and O2 solubility in saline and hypersaline systems, and the ability of extracellular NaCl levels to influence metabolism. We screened unialgal isolates obtained from hypersaline ecosystems in the southwest United States and identified two distinct halophilic strains of the genus Tetraselmis (GSL1 and QNM1) that exhibit both robust fermentative and photo H2-production activities. The influence of salinity (3.5%, 5.5% and 7.0% w/v NaCl) on H2 production was examined during anoxic acclimation, with the greatest in vivo H2-production rates observed at 7.0% NaCl. These Tetraselmis strains maintain robust hydrogenase activity even after 24 h of anoxic acclimation and show increased hydrogenase activity relative to C. reinhardtii after extended anoxia. Transcriptional analysis of Tetraselmis GSL1 enabled sequencing of the cDNA encoding the FeFe-hydrogenase structural enzyme (HYDA) and its maturation proteins (HYDE, HYDEF and HYDG). In contrast to freshwater Chlorophyceae, the halophilic Tetraselmis GSL1 strain likely encodes a single HYDA and two copies of HYDE, one of which is fused to HYDF. Phylogenetic analyses of HYDA and concatenated HYDA, HYDE, HYDF and HYDG in Tetraselmis GSL1 fill existing knowledge gaps in the evolution of algal hydrogenases and indicate that the algal hydrogenases sequenced to date are derived from a common ancestor. This is consistent with recent hypotheses that suggest fermentative metabolism in the majority of eukaryotes is derived from a common base set of enzymes that emerged early in eukaryotic evolution with subsequent losses in some organisms.
PMCID: PMC3897525  PMID: 24465722
7.  Molecular signature of hypersaline adaptation: insights from genome and proteome composition of halophilic prokaryotes 
Genome Biology  2008;9(4):R70.
A comparative genomic and proteomic study of halophilic and non-halophilic prokaryotes identifies specific genomic and proteomic features typical of halophilic species that are independent from genomic GC-content and taxonomic position.
Halophilic prokaryotes are adapted to thrive in extreme conditions of salinity. Identification and analysis of distinct macromolecular characteristics of halophiles provide insight into the factors responsible for their adaptation to high-salt environments. The current report presents an extensive and systematic comparative analysis of genome and proteome composition of halophilic and non-halophilic microorganisms, with a view to identify such macromolecular signatures of haloadaptation.
Comparative analysis of the genomes and proteomes of halophiles and non-halophiles reveals some common trends in halophiles that transcend the boundary of phylogenetic relationship and the genomic GC-content of the species. At the protein level, halophilic species are characterized by low hydrophobicity, over-representation of acidic residues, especially Asp, under-representation of Cys, lower propensities for helix formation and higher propensities for coil structure. At the DNA level, the dinucleotide abundance profiles of halophilic genomes bear some common characteristics, which are quite distinct from those of non-halophiles, and hence may be regarded as specific genomic signatures for salt-adaptation. The synonymous codon usage in halophiles also exhibits similar patterns regardless of their long-term evolutionary history.
The generality of molecular signatures for environmental adaptation of extreme salt-loving organisms, demonstrated in the present study, advocates the convergent evolution of halophilic species towards specific genome and amino acid composition, irrespective of their varying GC-bias and widely disparate taxonomic positions. The adapted features of halophiles seem to be related to physical principles governing DNA and protein stability, in response to the extreme environmental conditions under which they thrive.
PMCID: PMC2643941  PMID: 18397532
8.  The Halophilic Fungus Hortaea werneckii and the Halotolerant Fungus Aureobasidium pullulans Maintain Low Intracellular Cation Concentrations in Hypersaline Environments 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):6600-6605.
Hortaea werneckii and Aureobasidium pullulans, black yeast-like fungi isolated from hypersaline waters of salterns as their natural ecological niche, have been previously defined as halophilic and halotolerant microorganisms, respectively. In the present study we assessed their growth and determined the intracellular cation concentrations of salt-adapted and non-salt-adapted cells of both species at a wide range of salinities (0 to 25% NaCl and 0 to 20% NaCl, respectively). Although 5% NaCl improved the growth of H. werneckii, even the minimal addition of NaCl to the growth medium slowed down the growth rate of A. pullulans, confirming their halophilic and halotolerant nature. Salt-adapted cells of H. werneckii and A. pullulans kept very low amounts of internal Na+ even when grown at high NaCl concentrations and can be thus considered Na+ excluders, suggesting the existence of efficient mechanisms for the regulation of ion fluxes. Based on our results, we can conclude that these organisms do not use K+ or Na+ for osmoregulation. Comparison of cation fluctuations after a hyperosmotic shock, to which nonadapted cells of both species were exposed, demonstrated better ionic homeostasis regulation of H. werneckii compared to A. pullulans. We observed small fluctuations of cation concentrations after a hyperosmotic shock in nonadapted A. pullulans similar to those in salt-adapted H.werneckii, which additionally confirmed better regulation of ionic homeostasis in the latter. These features can be expected from organisms adapted to survival within a wide range of salinities and to occasional exposure to extremely high NaCl concentrations, both characteristic for their natural environment.
PMCID: PMC1287720  PMID: 16269687
9.  A Preliminary Evaluation of the DDT Contamination of Sediments in Lakes Natron and Bogoria (Eastern Rift Valley, Africa) 
Ambio  2011;40(4):341-350.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is still used in Africa for the indoor control of malaria and it may represent a potential hazard for wildlife. The littoral sediments of two alkaline-saline lakes, Natron (Tanzania) and Bogoria (Kenya), in the Eastern Rift Valley, supporting large populations of lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor), were analysed for DDT residues. Physical–chemical analyses (temperature, conductivity, pH and dissolved oxygen) were also performed on the water of the two lakes and in the tributaries of Lake Natron, to evaluate the influence of the environmental variables on pollutant occurrence. At Lake Natron, around 1 km from the sediment collection sites, tree leaves of Acacia tortilis were also collected. The main metabolite found in all sediment samples was pp’DDE, whilst equal concentrations of pp’DDT and pp’DDE were measured in acacia leaves. The levels of DDTs measured in the sediments were within 5.9–30.9 ng g−1 d.w., reaching the maximum value in a tributary of Lake Natron. On the whole, the contamination of Lake Natron and Lake Bogoria basins seems to be quite moderate. Nevertheless, the pp’DDE/pp’DDT ratio equals 1 in the Acacia tortilis leaves, which makes one suppose that the input of the parent compound was rather recent and could have been from aerial transport or dust from relatively close-by old pesticides storage sites.
PMCID: PMC3357743  PMID: 21809777
Obsolete contaminant pollution; Soda lakes; Sediments; Acacia leaves; Tanzania; Kenya
10.  Wound infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus, a marine vibrio, in inland areas of the United States. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1984;19(2):197-199.
Vibrio vulnificus is a halophilic marine vibrio which may produce infection in wounds exposed to seawater or raw shellfish. The Centers for Disease Control has received two isolates from wounds exposed to inland waters, a New Mexico creek and an Oklahoma reservoir. Halophilic organisms were recovered from both the creek and the reservoir, and the water in both sites was found to be brackish. Both clinical isolates of V. vulnificus grew in salt concentrations as low as those found in the creek and reservoir. These cases illustrate the potential for pathogenic halophilic Vibrio species to live in brackish inland waters and produce infections in patients living in inland areas of the United States.
PMCID: PMC271017  PMID: 6699148
11.  Extremely halophilic archaea and the issue of long-term microbial survival 
Halophilic archaebacteria (haloarchaea) thrive in environments with salt concentrations approaching saturation, such as natural brines, the Dead Sea, alkaline salt lakes and marine solar salterns; they have also been isolated from rock salt of great geological age (195–250 million years). An overview of their taxonomy, including novel isolates from rock salt, is presented here; in addition, some of their unique characteristics and physiological adaptations to environments of low water activity are reviewed. The issue of extreme long-term microbial survival is considered and its implications for the search for extraterrestrial life. The development of detection methods for subterranean haloarchaea, which might also be applicable to samples from future missions to space, is presented.
PMCID: PMC3188376  PMID: 21984879
Extreme halophiles; Haloarchaea; Life detection; Microbial longevity; Salt mines; Salt sediments; Space missions; Subterranean; Taxonomy of halobacteriaceae
12.  Saline systems of the Great Plains of western Canada: an overview of the limnogeology and paleolimnology 
Saline Systems  2005;1:10.
In much of the northern Great Plains, saline and hypersaline lacustrine brines are the only surface waters present. As a group, the lakes of this region are unique: there is no other area in the world that can match the concentration and diversity of saline lake environments exhibited in the prairie region of Canada and northern United States. The immense number of individual salt lakes and saline wetlands in this region of North America is staggering. Estimates vary from about one million to greater than 10 million, with densities in some areas being as high as 120 lakes/km2.
Despite over a century of scientific investigation of these salt lakes, we have only in the last twenty years advanced far enough to appreciate the wide spectrum of lake types, water chemistries, and limnological processes that are operating in the modern settings. Hydrochemical data are available for about 800 of the lake brines in the region. Composition, textural, and geochemical information on the modern bottom sediments has been collected for just over 150 of these lakes. Characterization of the biological and ecological features of these lakes is based on even fewer investigations, and the stratigraphic records of only twenty basins have been examined.
The lake waters show a considerable range in ionic composition and concentration. Early investigators, concentrating on the most saline brines, emphasized a strong predominance of Na+ and SO4-2 in the lakes. It is now realized, however, that not only is there a complete spectrum of salinities from less than 1 ppt TDS to nearly 400 ppt, but also virtually every water chemistry type is represented in lakes of the region. With such a vast array of compositions, it is difficult to generalize. Nonetheless, the paucity of Cl-rich lakes makes the northern Great Plains basins somewhat unusual compared with salt lakes in many other areas of the world (e.g., Australia, western United States). Compilations of the lake water chemistries show distinct spatial trends and regional variations controlled by groundwater input, climate, and geomorphology. Short-term temporal variations in the brine composition, which can have significant effects on the composition of the modern sediments, have also been well documented in several individual basins.
From a sedimentological and mineralogical perspective, the wide range of water chemistries exhibited by the lakes leads to an unusually large diversity of modern sediment composition. Over 40 species of endogenic precipitates and authigenic minerals have been identified in the lacustrine sediments. The most common non-detrital components of the modern sediments include: calcium and calcium-magnesium carbonates (magnesian calcite, aragonite, dolomite), and sodium, magnesium, and sodium-magnesium sulfates (mirabilite, thenardite, bloedite, epsomite). Many of the basins whose brines have very high Mg/Ca ratios also have hydromagnesite, magnesite, and nesquehonite. Unlike salt lakes in many other areas of the world, halite, gypsum, and calcite are relatively rare endogenic precipitates in the Great Plains lakes. The detrital fraction of the lacustrine sediments is normally dominated by clay minerals, carbonate minerals, quartz, and feldspars.
Sediment accumulation in these salt lakes is controlled and modified by a wide variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes. Although the details of these modern sedimentary processes can be exceedingly complex and difficult to discuss in isolation, in broad terms, the processes operating in the salt lakes of the Great Plains are ultimately controlled by three basic factors or conditions of the basin: (a) basin morphology; (b) basin hydrology; and (c) water salinity and composition. Combinations of these parameters interact to control nearly all aspects of modern sedimentation in these salt lakes and give rise to four 'end member' types of modern saline lacustrine settings in the Great Plains: (a) clastics-dominated playas; (b) salt-dominated playas; (c) deep water, non-stratified lakes; and (d) deep water, "permanently" stratified lakes.
PMCID: PMC1315329  PMID: 16297237
13.  Endospores of halophilic bacteria of the family Bacillaceae isolated from non-saline Japanese soil may be transported by Kosa event (Asian dust storm) 
Saline Systems  2005;1:8.
Generally, extremophiles have been deemed to survive in the extreme environments to which they had adapted to grow. Recently many extremophiles have been isolated from places where they are not expected to grow. Alkaliphilic microorganisms have been isolated from acidic soil samples with pH 4.0, and thermophiles have been isolated from samples of low temperature. Numerous moderately halophilic microorganisms, defined as those that grow optimally in media containing 0.5–2.5 Molar (3–15%) NaCl, and halotolerant microorganisms that are able to grow in media without added NaCl and in the presence of high NaCl have been isolated from saline environments such as salterns, salt lakes and sea sands. It has tacitly been believed that habitats of halophiles able to grow in media containing more than 20% (3.4 M) are restricted to saline environments, and no reports have been published on the isolation of halophiles from ordinary garden soil samples.
We demonstrated that many halophilic bacteria that are able to grow in the presence of 20% NaCl are inhabiting in non-saline environments such as ordinary garden soils, yards, fields and roadways in an area surrounding Tokyo, Japan. Analyses of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences of 176 isolates suggested that they were halophiles belonging to genera of the family Bacillaceae, Bacillus (11 isolates), Filobacillus (19 isolates), Gracilibacillus (6 isolates), Halobacillus (102 isolates), Lentibacillus (1 isolate), Paraliobacillus (5 isolates) and Virgibacillus (17 isolates). Sequences of 15 isolates showed similarities less than 92%, suggesting that they may represent novel taxa within the family Bacillaceae.
The numbers of total bacteria of inland soil samples were in a range from 1.4 × 107/g to 1.1 × 106/g. One tenth of the total bacteria was occupied by endospore-forming bacteria. Only very few of the endospore-forming bacteria, roughly 1 out of 20,000, are halophilic bacteria. Most of the halophilic bacteria were surviving as endospores in the soil samples, in a range of less than 1 to about 500/g soil. Samples collected from seashore in a city confronting Tokyo Bay gave the total numbers of bacteria and endospores roughly 1000 time smaller than those of inland soil samples. Numbers of halophilic bacteria per gram, however, were almost the same as those of inland soil samples. A possible source of the halophilic endospore originating from Asian dust storms is discussed.
PMCID: PMC1283985  PMID: 16242015
14.  Evolutionary divergence and salinity-mediated selection in halophilic archaea. 
Halophilic (literally salt-loving) archaea are a highly evolved group of organisms that are uniquely able to survive in and exploit hypersaline environments. In this review, we examine the potential interplay between fluctuations in environmental salinity and the primary sequence and tertiary structure of halophilic proteins. The proteins of halophilic archaea are highly adapted and magnificently engineered to function in an intracellular milieu that is in ionic balance with an external environment containing between 2 and 5 M inorganic salt. To understand the nature of halophilic adaptation and to visualize this interplay, the sequences of genes encoding the L11, L1, L10, and L12 proteins of the large ribosome subunit and Mn/Fe superoxide dismutase proteins from three genera of halophilic archaea have been aligned and analyzed for the presence of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions. Compared to homologous eubacterial genes, these halophilic genes exhibit an inordinately high proportion of nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions that result in amino acid replacement in the encoded proteins. More than one-third of the replacements involve acidic amino acid residues. We suggest that fluctuations in environmental salinity provide the driving force for fixation of the excessive number of nonsynonymous substitutions. Tinkering with the number, location, and arrangement of acidic and other amino acid residues influences the fitness (i.e., hydrophobicity, surface hydration, and structural stability) of the halophilic protein. Tinkering is also evident at halophilic protein positions monomorphic or polymorphic for serine; more than one-third of these positions use both the TCN and the AGY serine codons, indicating that there have been multiple nonsynonymous substitutions at these positions. Our model suggests that fluctuating environmental salinity prevents optimization of fitness for many halophilic proteins and helps to explain the unusual evolutionary divergence of their encoding genes.
PMCID: PMC232602  PMID: 9106366
15.  Draft Genome Sequence of “Candidatus Halobonum tyrrellensis” Strain G22, Isolated from the Hypersaline Waters of Lake Tyrrell, Australia 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(6):e01001-13.
We report the draft 3.675-Mbp genome sequence of “Candidatus Halobonum tyrrellensis” strain G22, a novel halophilic archaeon isolated from the surface hypersaline waters of Lake Tyrrell, Australia. The availability of the first genome from the “Candidatus Halobonum” genus provides a new genomic resource for the comparative genomic analysis of halophilic Archaea.
PMCID: PMC3861417  PMID: 24336364
16.  A First Record of Obligate Halophilic Aspergilli from the Dead Sea 
Indian Journal of Microbiology  2011;52(1):22-27.
The isolation of obligate halophilic aspergilli from the Dead Sea and the range of salt tolerance of halophilic fungi isolated, are reported here for the first time. The mycobiota of the Dead Sea isolated in this study, was dominated by Aspergillus and Penicillium species; Cladosporium were found in lesser numbers. All three genera were obtained from the water sample; however, Aspergillus was the only genus obtained from the sediment. There was significant difference in growth of each isolate at different salt concentrations and intraspecies analysis revealed dissimilarity in response of strains to different salt concentrations in the growth medium The isolates were euryhaline, with halotolerance up to 20–25% solar salt, Aspergillus and Penicillium species showing a higher level of halotolerance, as compared to that of Cladosporium. Halophilic fungi were found in greater numbers in the sediment sample as compared to that in the water sample. Penicillium and Cladosporium species were exclusively facultative halophiles, while some species of Aspergillus were facultative halophiles. All the obligate halophiles isolated, belonged to the genus Aspergillus and were identified as A. penicillioides and A unguis, the latter being a first record of the species from the Dead Sea.
PMCID: PMC3298590  PMID: 23449273
Dead Sea; Obligate halophile; Aspergillus; Penicillium; Cladosporium
17.  Fungal life in the extremely hypersaline water of the Dead Sea: first records. 
The first report, to our knowledge, on the occurrence of filamentous fungi in the hypersaline (340 g salt l-1) Dead Sea is presented. Three species of filamentous fungi from surface water samples of the Dead Sea were isolated: Gymnascella marismortui (Ascomycota), which is described as a new species, Ulocladium chlamydosporum and Penicillium westlingii (Deuteromycota). G. marismortui and U. chlamydosporum grew on media containing up to 50% Dead Sea water. G. marismortui was found to be an obligate halophile growing optimally in the presence of 0.5-2 M NaCl or 10 30% (by volume) of Dead Sea water. Isolated cultures did not grow on agar media without salt, but grew on agar prepared with up to 50% Dead Sea water. This suggests that they may be adapted to life in the extremely stressful hypersaline Dead Sea.
PMCID: PMC1689213  PMID: 9721690
18.  Biology of Moderately Halophilic Aerobic Bacteria 
The moderately halophilic heterotrophic aerobic bacteria form a diverse group of microorganisms. The property of halophilism is widespread within the bacterial domain. Bacterial halophiles are abundant in environments such as salt lakes, saline soils, and salted food products. Most species keep their intracellular ionic concentrations at low levels while synthesizing or accumulating organic solutes to provide osmotic equilibrium of the cytoplasm with the surrounding medium. Complex mechanisms of adjustment of the intracellular environments and the properties of the cytoplasmic membrane enable rapid adaptation to changes in the salt concentration of the environment. Approaches to the study of genetic processes have recently been developed for several moderate halophiles, opening the way toward an understanding of haloadaptation at the molecular level. The new information obtained is also expected to contribute to the development of novel biotechnological uses for these organisms.
PMCID: PMC98923  PMID: 9618450
19.  Cloning, overexpression, purification, and characterization of a polyextremophilic β-galactosidase from the Antarctic haloarchaeon Halorubrum lacusprofundi 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:3.
Halorubrum lacusprofundi is a cold-adapted halophilic archaeon isolated from Deep Lake, a perennially cold and hypersaline lake in Antarctica. Its genome sequencing project was recently completed, providing access to many genes predicted to encode polyextremophilic enzymes active in both extremely high salinity and cold temperatures.
Analysis of the genome sequence of H. lacusprofundi showed a gene cluster for carbohydrate utilization containing a glycoside hydrolase family 42 β-galactosidase gene, named bga. In order to study the biochemical properties of the β-galactosidase enzyme, the bga gene was PCR amplified, cloned, and expressed in the genetically tractable haloarchaeon Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 under the control of a cold shock protein (cspD2) gene promoter. The recombinant β-galactosidase protein was produced at 20-fold higher levels compared to H. lacusprofundi, purified using gel filtration and hydrophobic interaction chromatography, and identified by SDS-PAGE, LC-MS/MS, and ONPG hydrolysis activity. The purified enzyme was found to be active over a wide temperature range (−5 to 60°C) with an optimum of 50°C, and 10% of its maximum activity at 4°C. The enzyme also exhibited extremely halophilic character, with maximal activity in either 4 M NaCl or KCl. The polyextremophilic β-galactosidase was also stable and active in 10–20% alcohol-aqueous solutions, containing methanol, ethanol, n-butanol, or isoamyl alcohol.
The H. lacusprofundi β-galactosidase is a polyextremophilic enzyme active in high salt concentrations and low and high temperature. The enzyme is also active in aqueous-organic mixed solvents, with potential applications in synthetic chemistry. H. lacuprofundi proteins represent a significant biotechnology resource and for developing insights into enzyme catalysis under water limiting conditions. This study provides a system for better understanding how H. lacusprofundi is successful in a perennially cold, hypersaline environment, with relevance to astrobiology.
PMCID: PMC3556326  PMID: 23320757
Polyextremophiles; Extremozymes; Protein stability; Halophiles; Psychrophiles; Biofuels
20.  Archaeal Diversity at the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma Described by Cultivation and Molecular Analyses 
Microbial ecology  2009;58(3):519-528.
The Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma is a natural inland terrestrial hypersaline environment that forms evaporite crusts of mainly NaCl. Previous work described the bacterial community through the characterization of 105 isolates from 46 phylotypes. The current report describes the archaeal community through both microbial isolation and culture-independent techniques. Nineteen distinct archaea were isolated, and ten were characterized phenetically. Included were isolates phylogenetically related to Haloarcula, Haloferax, Halorubrum, Haloterrigena, and Natrinema. The isolates were aerobic, non-motile, Gram-negative organisms and exhibited little capacity for fermentation. All of the isolates were halophilic, with most requiring at least 15% salinity for growth, and all grew at 30% salinity. The isolates were mainly mesothermic and could grow at alkaline pH (8.5). A 16S rRNA gene library was generated by polymerase chain reaction amplification of direct soil DNA extracts, and 200 clones were sequenced and analyzed. At 99% and 94% sequence identity, 36 and 19 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were detected, respectively, while 53 and 22 OTUs were estimated by Chao1, respectively. Coverage was relatively high (100% and 59% at 89% and 99% sequence identity, respectively), and the Shannon Index was 3.01 at 99% sequence identity, comparable to or somewhat lower than hypersaline habitats previously studied. Only sequences from Euryarchaeota in the Halobacteriales were detected, and the strength of matches to known sequences was generally low, most near 90% sequence identity. Large clusters were observed that are related to Haloarcula and Halorubrum. More than two-thirds of the sequences were in clusters that did not have close relatives reported in public databases.
PMCID: PMC4066810  PMID: 19306116
21.  The MAP kinase HwHog1 from the halophilic black yeast Hortaea werneckii: coping with stresses in solar salterns 
Saline Systems  2007;3:3.
Hortaea werneckii is one of the most salt-tolerant species among microorganisms. It has been isolated from hypersaline waters of salterns as one of the predominant species of a group of halophilic and halotolerant melanized yeast-like fungi, arbitrarily named as "black yeasts". It has previously been shown that H. werneckii has distinct mechanisms of adaptation to high salinity environments that are not seen in salt-sensitive and only moderately salt-tolerant fungi. In H. werneckii, the HOG pathway is important for sensing the changes in environmental osmolarity, as demonstrated by identification of three main pathway components: the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) HwHog1, the MAPK kinase HwPbs2, and the putative histidine kinase osmosensor HwHhk7.
In this study, we show that the expression of HwHOG1 in salt-adapted cells depends on the environmental salinity and that HwHOG1 transcription responds rapidly but reciprocally to the acute hyper-saline or hypo-saline stress. Molecular modelling of HwHog1 reveals an overall structural homology with other MAPKs. HwHog1 complements the function of ScHog1 in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae multistress response. We also show that hyper-osmolar, oxidative and high-temperature stresses activate the HwHog1 kinase, although under high-temperature stress the signal is not transmitted via the MAPK kinase Pbs2. Identification of HOG1-like genes from other halotolerant fungi isolated from solar salterns demonstrates a high degree of similarity and excellent phylogenetic clustering with orthologues of fungal origin.
The HOG signalling pathway has an important role in sensing and responding to hyper-osmolar, oxidative and high-temperature stresses in the halophilic fungi H. werneckii. These findings are an important advance in our understanding of the HOG pathway response to stress in H. werneckii, a proposed model organism for studying the salt tolerance of halophilic and halotolerant eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC1828057  PMID: 17349032
22.  Influence of zinc on the calcium carbonate biomineralization of Halomonas halophila 
Aquatic Biosystems  2012;8:31.
The salt tolerance of halophilic bacteria make them promising candidates for technical applications, like isolation of salt tolerant enzymes or remediation of contaminated saline soils and waters. Furthermore, some halophilic bacteria synthesize inorganic solids resulting in organic–inorganic hybrids. This process is known as biomineralization, which is induced and/or controlled by the organism. The adaption of the soft and eco-friendly reaction conditions of this formation process to technical syntheses of inorganic nano materials is desirable. In addition, environmental contaminations can be entrapped in biomineralization products which facilitate the subsequent removal from waste waters. The moderately halophilic bacteria Halomonas halophila mineralize calcium carbonate in the calcite polymorph. The biomineralization process was investigated in the presence of zinc ions as a toxic model contaminant. In particular, the time course of the mineralization process and the influence of zinc on the mineralized inorganic materials have been focused in this study.
H. halophila can adapt to zinc contaminated medium, maintaining the ability for biomineralization of calcium carbonate. Adapted cultures show only a low influence of zinc on the growth rate. In the time course of cultivation, zinc ions accumulated on the bacterial surface while the medium depleted in the zinc contamination. Intracellular zinc concentrations were below the detection limit, suggesting that zinc was mainly bound extracellular. Zinc ions influence the biomineralization process. In the presence of zinc, the polymorphs monohydrocalcite and vaterite were mineralized, instead of calcite which is synthesized in zinc-free medium.
We have demonstrated that the bacterial mineralization process can be influenced by zinc ions resulting in the modification of the synthesized calcium carbonate polymorph. In addition, the shape of the mineralized inorganic material is chancing through the presence of zinc ions. Furthermore, the moderately halophilic bacterium H. halophila can be applied for the decontamination of zinc from aqueous solutions.
PMCID: PMC3520789  PMID: 23198844
23.  Phylogenetic Diversities and Community Structure of Members of the Extremely Halophilic Archaea (Order Halobacteriales) in Multiple Saline Sediment Habitats 
We investigated the phylogenetic diversity and community structure of members of the halophilic Archaea (order Halobacteriales) in five distinct sediment habitats that experience various levels of salinity and salinity fluctuations (sediments from Great Salt Plains and Zodletone Spring in Oklahoma, mangrove tree sediments in Puerto Rico, sediment underneath salt heaps in a salt-processing plant, and sediments from the Great Salt Lake northern arm) using Halobacteriales-specific 16S rRNA gene primers. Extremely diverse Halobacteriales communities were encountered in all habitats, with 27 (Zodletone) to 37 (mangrove) different genera identified per sample, out of the currently described 38 Halobacteriales genera. With the exception of Zodletone Spring, where the prevalent geochemical conditions are extremely inhospitable to Halobacteriales survival, habitats with fluctuating salinity levels were more diverse than permanently saline habitats. Sequences affiliated with the recently described genera Halogranum, Halolamina, Haloplanus, Halosarcina, and Halorientalis, in addition to the genera Halorubrum, Haloferax, and Halobacterium, were among the most abundant and ubiquitous genera, suggesting a wide distribution of these poorly studied genera in saline sediments. The Halobacteriales sediment communities analyzed in this study were more diverse than and completely distinct from communities from typical hypersaline water bodies. Finally, sequences unaffiliated with currently described genera represented a small fraction of the total Halobacteriales communities, ranging between 2.5% (Zodletone) to 7.0% (mangrove and Great Salt Lake). However, these novel sequences were characterized by remarkably high levels of alpha and beta diversities, suggesting the presence of an enormous, yet-untapped supply of novel Halobacteriales genera within the rare biosphere of various saline ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3294467  PMID: 22179255
24.  Nitrogen metabolism in haloarchaea 
Saline Systems  2008;4:9.
The nitrogen cycle (N-cycle), principally supported by prokaryotes, involves different redox reactions mainly focused on assimilatory purposes or respiratory processes for energy conservation. As the N-cycle has important environmental implications, this biogeochemical cycle has become a major research topic during the last few years. However, although N-cycle metabolic pathways have been studied extensively in Bacteria or Eukarya, relatively little is known in the Archaea. Halophilic Archaea are the predominant microorganisms in hot and hypersaline environments such as salted lakes, hot springs or salted ponds. Consequently, the denitrifying haloarchaea that sustain the nitrogen cycle under these conditions have emerged as an important target for research aimed at understanding microbial life in these extreme environments.
The haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei was isolated 20 years ago from Santa Pola salted ponds (Alicante, Spain). It was described as a denitrifier and it is also able to grow using NO3-, NO2- or NH4+ as inorganic nitrogen sources. This review summarizes the advances that have been made in understanding the N-cycle in halophilic archaea using Hfx mediterranei as a haloarchaeal model. The results obtained show that this microorganism could be very attractive for bioremediation applications in those areas where high salt, nitrate and nitrite concentrations are found in ground waters and soils.
PMCID: PMC2483277  PMID: 18593475
25.  Stone Lakes Virus (Family Togaviridae, Genus Alphavirus), a Variant of Fort Morgan Virus Isolated From Swallow Bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) West of the Continental Divide 
Journal of medical entomology  2009;46(5):1203-1209.
Multiple isolates of an alphaviruses within the western equine encephalomyelitis-serocomplex that were related closely to Ft. Morgan and its variant Buggy Creek virus were made from swallow bugs, Oeciacus vicarius Horvath (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), collected from cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) nests at the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento County, CA, during the summers of 2005 and 2006. This virus (hereafter Stone Lakes virus, family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus, STLV) was the first record of this viral group west of the Continental Divide. STLV replicated well in Vero and other vertebrate cell cultures but failed to replicate in C6/36 cells or infect Culex tarsalis Coquillett mosquitoes. STLV failed to produce elevated viremias in adult chickens or house sparrows and was weakly immunogenic. In addition, STLV was not isolated from cliff swallow nestlings nor was antibody detected in adults collected at mist nets. We suggest that STL and related swallow bug viruses may be primarily infections of cimicids that are maintained and amplified either by vertical or nonviremic transmission and that cliff swallows may primarily be important as a bloodmeal source for the bugs rather than as an amplification host for the viruses.
PMCID: PMC2775074  PMID: 19769055
Stone Lakes virus; swallow bugs; cliff swallows; house sparrows; California

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