Hypersaline solar salterns are extreme environments in many tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. In India, there are several coastal solar salterns along with the coastal line of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea and inland solar salterns around Sambhar saltlake, from which sodium chloride is obtained for human consumption and industrial needs. Studies on characterization of such coastal and inland solar salterns are scarce and both the bacterial and archaeal diversity of these extreme saline environment remains poorly understood. Moreover, there are no reports on exclusive diversity of actinomycetes inhabiting Indian solar salterns.
Soil sediments were collected from both concentrator and crystallizer ponds of solar salterns and subjected to detailed physico-chemical analysis. Actinomycetes were selectively isolated by employing selective processing methods and agar media. A total of 12 representatives were selected from the 69 actinomycete isolates obtained from the saltern soil samples, using Amplified Ribosomal DNA Restriction Analysis. Sequencing and analysis of 16S rDNA from chosen representative isolates displayed the presence of members affiliated to actinobacterial genera: Streptomyces, Micromonospora, Nocardia, Nocardiopsis, Saccharopolyspora and Nonomuraea. The genus Streptomyces was found to be the dominant among the isolates. Furthermore, rare actinomycete genus Nonomuraea was isolated for the first time from Indian solar salterns.
To the best of our knowledge, this study constitutes the first characterization of actinomycete diversity centred on solar salterns located in the eastern coastal region of India. Furthermore, this is the very first report of isolation of Nonomuraea species from solar salterns and also from India. As actinomycetes encompass recurrently foremost sources of biotechnologically important member of the microbial communities, the actinomycetes retrieved from the Indian saltern soil samples laid the platform to search for novel biotechnologically significant bioactive substances.
Solar saltern; Actinomycete; ARDRA; Phylogeny; 16S rDNA; Nonomuraea
Traditional salt farming in Goa, India has been practised for the past 1,500 years by a few communities. Goa’s riverine estuaries, easy access to sea water and favourable climatic conditions makes salt production attractive during summer. Salt produced through this natural evaporation process also played an important role in the economy of Goa even during the Portuguese rule as salt was the chief export commodity. In the past there were 36 villages involved in salt production, which is now reduced to 9. Low income, lack of skilled labour, competition from industrially produced salt, losses incurred on the yearly damage of embankments are the major reasons responsible for the reduction in the number of salt pans.
Salt pans (Mithagar or Mithache agor) form a part of the reclaimed waterlogged khazan lands, which are also utilised for aquaculture, pisciculture and agriculture. Salt pans in Goa experience three phases namely, the ceased phase during monsoon period of June to October, preparatory phase from December to January, and salt harvesting phase, from February to June. After the monsoons, the salt pans are prepared manually for salt production. During high tide, an influx of sea water occurs, which enters the reservoir pans through sluice gates. The sea water after 1–2 days on attaining a salinity of approximately 5ºBé, is released into the evaporator pans and kept till it attains a salinity of 23 - 25ºBé. The brine is then released to crystallizer pans, where the salt crystallises out 25 - 27ºBé and is then harvested.
Salt pans form a unique ecosystem where succession of different organisms with varying environmental conditions occurs. Organisms ranging from bacteria, archaea to fungi, algae, etc., are known to colonise salt pans and may influence the quality of salt produced.
The aim of this review is to describe salt farming in Goa’s history, importance of salt production as a community activity, traditional method of salt production and the biota associated with salt pans.
Salt pan; Goa; Estuary; Community; Khazan; Tidal influx; India; Salt production
The aim of the present study was to investigate indigenous fungal communities isolated from extreme environments (hypersaline waters of solar salterns and subglacial ice), for the production of metabolic compounds with selected biological activities: hemolysis, antibacterial, and acetylcholinesterase inhibition. In their natural habitats, the selected fungi are exposed to environmental extremes, and therefore the production of bioactive metabolites was tested under both standard growth conditions for mesophilic microorganisms, and at high NaCl and sugar concentrations and low growth temperatures. The results indicate that selected halotolerant and halophilic species synthesize specific bioactive metabolites under conditions that represent stress for non-adapted species. Furthermore, adaptation at the level of the chemical nature of the solute lowering the water activity of the medium was observed. Increased salt concentrations resulted in higher hemolytic activity, particularly within species dominating the salterns. The appearance of antibacterial potential under stress conditions was seen in the similar pattern of fungal species as for hemolysis. The active extracts exclusively affected the growth of the Gram-positive bacterium tested, Bacillus subtilis. None of the extracts tested showed inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activity.
hypersaline environments; black yeast; NaCl; secondary metabolites; hemolysis; antibacterial activity
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.
Extreme halophiles; Haloarchaea; Life detection; Microbial longevity; Salt mines; Salt sediments; Space missions; Subterranean; Taxonomy of halobacteriaceae
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.
Eighteen strains of extremely halophilic bacteria and three strains of moderately halophilic bacteria were isolated from four different solar salt environments. Growth tests on carbohydrates, low-molecular-weight carboxylic acids, and complex medium demonstrated that the moderate halophiles and strains of the extreme halophiles Haloarcula and Halococcus grew on most of the substrates tested. Among the Halobacterium isolates were several metabolic groups: strains that grew on a broad range of substrates and strains that were essentially confined to either amino acid (peptone) or carbohydrate oxidation. One strain (WS-4) only grew well on pyruvate and acetate. Most strains of extreme halophiles grew by anaerobic fermentation and possibly by nitrate reduction. Tests of growth potential in natural saltern brines demonstrated that none of the halobacteria grew well in brines which harbor the densest populations of these bacteria in solar salterns. All grew best in brines which were unsaturated with NaCl. The high concentrations of Na+ and Mg2+ found in saltern crystallizer brines limited bacterial growth, but the concentrations of K+ found in these brines had little effect. MgSO4 was relatively more inhibitory to the extreme halophiles than was MgCl2, but the reverse was true for the moderate halophiles.
An extreme halophilic bacterium was isolated from solar saltern samples and identified based on biochemical tests and 16S r RNA sequencing as Chromohalobacter sp. strain TVSP101. The halophilic protease was purified using ultrafiltration, ethanol precipitation, hydrophobic interaction column chromatography and gel permeation chromatography to 180 fold with 22% yield. The molecular mass of the protease determined by SDS PAGE was 66 kDa. The purified enzyme was salt dependent for its activity and stability with an optimum of 4.5 M NaCl. The optimum temperature for maximum protease activity was 75ºC. The protease was optimally active at pH 8 and retained more than 80% of its activity in the range of pH 7-10. Sucrose and glycine at 10% (w/v) were the most effective osmolytes, retained 100% activity in the absence of NaCl. The activity was completely inhibited by ZnCl2 (2 mM), 0.1% SDS and PMSF (1mM). The enzyme was not inhibited by 1mM of pepstatin, EDTA and PCMB. The protease was active and retained 100% it activity in 10% (v/v) DMSO, DMF, ethanol and acetone.
Chromohalobacter sp. TVSP101; halothermophilic protease; purification; organic solvents; osmolytes
The extraction of salt from seawater by means of coastal solar salterns is a very well-described process. Moreover, the characterization of these environments from ecological, biochemical and microbiological perspectives has become a key focus for many research groups all over the world over the last 20 years. In countries such as Spain, there are several examples of coastal solar salterns (mainly on the Mediterranean coast) and inland solar salterns, from which sodium chloride is obtained for human consumption. However, studies focused on the characterization of inland solar salterns are scarce and both the archaeal diversity and the plant communities inhabiting these environments remain poorly described.
Two of the inland solar salterns (termed Redonda and Penalva), located in the Alto Vinalopó Valley (Alicante, Spain), were characterized regarding their geological and physico-chemical characteristics and their archaeal and botanical biodiversity. A preliminary eukaryotic diversity survey was also performed using saline water. The chemical characterization of the brine has revealed that the salted groundwater extracted to fill these inland solar salterns is thalassohaline. The plant communities living in this environment are dominated by Sarcocornia fruticosa (L.) A.J. Scott, Arthrocnemum macrostachyum (Moris) K. Koch, Suaeda vera Forsk. ex Gmelin (Amaranthaceae) and several species of Limonium (Mill) and Tamarix (L). Archaeal diversity was analyzed and compared by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based molecular phylogenetic techniques. Most of the sequences recovered from environmental DNA samples are affiliated with haloarchaeal genera such as Haloarcula, Halorubrum, Haloquadratum and Halobacterium, and with an unclassified member of the Halobacteriaceae. The eukaryote Dunaliella was also present in the samples.
To our knowledge, this study constitutes the first analysis centered on inland solar salterns located in the southeastern region of Spain. The results obtained revealed that the salt deposits of this region have marine origins. Plant communities typical of salt marshes are present in this ecosystem and members of the Halobacteriaceae family can be easily detected in the microbial populations of these habitats. Possible origins of the haloarchaea detected in this study are discussed.
Phosphate-solubilizing bacteria (PSB) function in soil phosphorus cycle, increasing the bioavailability of soil phosphorus for plants. Isolation and application of salt-tolerant or halophilic PSB will facilitate the development of saline-alkali soil-based agriculture. A moderately halophilic bacterium was isolated from the sediment of Daqiao saltern on the eastern coast of China, which also performs phosphate-solubilizing ability. The bacterium was assigned to genus Kushneria according to its 16S rRNA gene sequence, and accordingly named as Kushneria sp. YCWA18. The fastest growth was observed when the culturing temperature was 28°C and the concentration of NaCl was 6% (w/v). It was founds that the bacterium can survive at a concentration of NaCl up to 20%. At the optimum condition, the bacterium solubilized 283.16 μg/mL phosphorus in 11 days after being inoculated in 200 mL Ca3(PO4)2 containing liquid medium, and 47.52 μg/mL phosphorus in 8 days after being inoculated in 200 mL lecithin-containing liquid medium. The growth of the bacterium was concomitant with a significant decrease of acidity of the medium.
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.
Inland solar salterns established in the vicinity of Sambhar Lake are extreme saline environments with high salinity and alkalinity. In view of the fact that microbes inhabiting such extreme saline environments flourish the contemporary bioprospecting, it was aimed to selectively isolate slow growing and rare actinomycetes from the unexplored solar salterns. A total of 14 slow growing actinomycetes were selectively isolated from three composite soil samples of inland solar salterns. Among the isolates, four groups were formed according to similarity of the banding patterns obtained by amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA). A subset of representative isolates for each ARDRA group was identified using 16S rDNA sequence based phylogenetic analysis and subsequently the entire isolates were assigned under three different genera; Streptomyces, Pseudonocardia, and Actinoalloteichus. The genus Streptomyces was found to be the dominant among the isolates. Furthermore, rare actinomycete genus Actinoalloteichus was isolated for the first time from solar saltern. Determination of salt-tolerance revealed that certain level of salt-tolerance and moderate halophilism occurs among the actinomycetes isolated from the inland salterns. In addition, all the acinomycetes were screened in two levels to unravel their ability to produce antimicrobial compounds. Significant antimicrobial activity was found among the actinomycetes against a range of bacteria and fungi to worth further characterization of these persuasive actinomycetes and their antimicrobial secondary metabolites. In a nutshell, this study offered a first interesting insight on occurrence of antagonistic rare actinomycetes and streptomycetes in inland solar salterns associated with Sambhar salt Lake.
solar saltern; rare actinomycetes; ARDRA; phylogeny
The microbial community inhabiting Sfax solar salterns on the east coast of Tunisia has been studied by means of different molecular and culture-dependent tools that have unveiled the presence of novel microbial groups as well as a community structure different from that of other coastal hypersaline environments. We have focused on the study of the viral assemblages of these salterns and their changes along the salinity gradient and over time. Viruses from three ponds (C4, M1, and TS) encompassing salinities from moderately hypersaline to saturated (around 14, 19, and 35%, respectively) were sampled in May and October 2009 and analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Additionally, for all three October samples and the May TS sample, viral metagenomic DNA was cloned in fosmids, end sequenced, and analyzed. Viral concentration, as well as virus-to-cell ratios, increased along the salinity gradient, with around 1010 virus-like particles (VLPs)/ml in close-to-saturation ponds, which represents the highest viral concentration reported so far for aquatic systems. Four distinct morphologies could be observed with TEM (spherical, tailed, spindled, and filamentous) but with various proportions in the different samples. Metagenomic analyses indicated that every pond harbored a distinct viral assemblage whose G+C content could be roughly correlated with that of the active part of the microbial community that may have constituted the putative hosts. As previously reported for hypersaline metaviromes, most sequences did not have matches in the databases, although some were conserved among the Sfax metaviromes. BLASTx, BLASTp, and dinucleotide frequency analyses indicated that (i) factors additional to salinity could be structuring viral communities and (ii) every metavirome had unique gene contents and dinucleotide frequencies. Comparison with hypersaline metaviromes available in the databases indicated that the viral assemblages present in close-to-saturation environments located thousands of kilometers apart presented some common traits among them in spite of their differences regarding the putative hosts. A small core metavirome for close-to-saturation systems was found that contained 7 sequences of around 100 nucleotides (nt) whose function was not hinted at by in silico search results, although it most likely represents properties essential for hyperhalophilic viruses.
Streptomyces sp. JAJ06 is a seawater-dependent antibiotic producer, previously isolated and characterised from an Indian coastal solar saltern. This paper reports replacement of seawater with a defined salt formulation in production medium and subsequent statistical media optimization to ensure consistent as well as improved antibiotic production by Streptomyces sp. JAJ06. This strain was observed to be proficient to produce antibiotic compound with incorporation of chemically defined sodium-chloride-based salt formulation instead of seawater into the production medium. Plackett-Burman design experiment was applied, and three media constituents, starch, KBr, and CaCO3, were recognised to have significant effect on the antibiotic production of Streptomyces JAJ06 at their individual levels. Subsequently, Response surface methodology with Box-Behnken design was employed to optimize these influencing medium constituents for the improved antibiotic production of Streptomyces sp. JAJ06. A total of 17 experiments were conducted towards the construction of a quadratic model and a second-order polynomial equation. Optimum levels of medium constituents were obtained by analysis of the model and numerical optimization method. When the strain JAJ06 was cultivated in the optimized medium, the antibiotic activity was increased to 173.3 U/mL, 26.8% increase as compared to the original (136.7 U/mL). This study found a useful way to cultivate Streptomyces sp. JAJ06 for enhanced production of antibiotic compound.
Two halophilic anaerobic bacteria, one of which had chitinolytic activity, were isolated from a solar saltern in southern California. These organisms were long, gram-negative, motile, flexible rods. The biochemical and physiological characteristics of these bacteria were very similar but were different from the characteristics of other haloanaerobic bacteria. Both grew at salt concentrations ranging from 0.5 to 5 M and at temperatures ranging from 23 to 50°C. They were sensitive to chloramphenicol but resistant to penicillin, carbenicillin, d-cycloserine, streptomycin, and tetracycline. An analysis of DNAs and whole-cell proteins showed that they were closely related taxonomically and distinguishable from other halophilic anaerobic bacteria. They exhibited 92.3 to 100% DNA homology as determined by DNA-DNA hybridization. The guanine-plus-cytosine contents of their DNAs were 34.8±1 mol%. The two isolates, strains W5C8 and W3C1, differed from other halophilic anaerobic bacteria sufficiently to support establishment of a new genus and species, Haloanaerobacter chitinovorans. Strain W5C8 exhibited chitinolytic activity and is designated the type strain. Two chitin-induced extracellular proteins with molecular weights of 38 × 103 and 40 × 103 were detected in strain W5C8.
The Planococcaceae are extreme survivors, having been cultured from environments such as deep sea sediments, marine solar salterns, glaciers, permafrost, Antarctic deserts, and sea ice brine. The family contains both sporulating and nonsporulating genera. Here we present the unclosed, draft genome sequence of Planococcus donghaensis strain MPA1U2, a nonsporulating psychrotrophic bacterium isolated from surface coastal water of the Pacific Ocean.
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.
La Sal del Rey ("the King's Salt") is one of several naturally-occurring salt lakes in Hidalgo County, Texas and is part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The research objective was to isolate and characterize halophilic microorganisms from La Sal del Rey. Water samples were collected from the lake and a small creek that feeds into the lake. Soil samples were collected from land adjacent to the water sample locations. Sample salinity was determined using a refractometer. Samples were diluted and cultured on a synthetic saline medium to grow halophilic bacteria. The density of halophiles was estimated by viable plate counts. A collection of isolates was selected, gram-stained, tested for catalase, and characterized using API 20E® test strips. Isolates were putatively identified by sequencing the 16S rDNA. Carbon source utilization by the microbial community from each sample site was examined using EcoPlate™ assays and the carbon utilization total activity of the community was determined.
Results showed that salinity ranged from 4 parts per thousand (ppt) at the lake water source to 420 ppt in water samples taken just along the lake shore. The density of halophilic bacteria in water samples ranged from 1.2 × 102 - 5.2 × 103 colony forming units per ml (cfu ml-1) whereas the density in soil samples ranged from 4.0 × 105 - 2.5 × 106 colony forming units per gram (cfu g-1). In general, as salinity increased the density of the bacterial community decreased. Microbial communities from water and soil samples were able to utilize 12 - 31 carbon substrates. The greatest number of substrates utilized was by water-borne communities compared to soil-based communities, especially at lower salinities. The majority of bacteria isolated were gram-negative, catalase-positive, rods. Biochemical profiles constructed from API 20E® test strips showed that bacterial isolates from low-salinity water samples (4 ppt) showed the greatest phenotypic diversity with regards to the types and number of positive tests from the strip. Isolates taken from water samples at the highest salinity (420 ppt) tended to be less diverse and have only a limited number of positive tests. Sequencing of 16S DNA displayed the presence of members of bacterial genera Bacillus, Halomonas, Pseudomonas, Exiguobacterium and others. The genus Bacillus was most commonly identified. None of the isolates were members of the Archaea probably due to dilution of salts in the samples.
The La Sal del Rey ecosystem supports a robust and diverse bacterial community despite the high salinity of the lake and soil. However, salinity does appear to a limiting factor with regards to the density and diversity of the bacterial communities that inhabit the lake and surrounding area.
Haloarchaea are the dominant microbial flora in hypersaline waters with near-saturating salt levels. The haloarchaeal diversity of an Australian saltern crystallizer pond was examined by use of a library of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes and by cultivation. High viable counts (106 CFU/ml) were obtained on solid media. Long incubation times (≥8 weeks) appeared to be more important than the medium composition for maximizing viable counts and diversity. Of 66 isolates examined, all belonged to the family Halobacteriaceae, including members related to species of the genera Haloferax, Halorubrum, and Natronomonas. In addition, isolates belonging to a novel group (the ADL group), previously detected only as 16S rRNA genes in an Antarctic hypersaline lake (Deep Lake), were cultivated for the first time. The 16S rRNA gene library identified the following five main groups: Halorubrum groups 1 and 2 (49%), the SHOW (square haloarchaea of Walsby) group (33%), the ADL group (16%), and the Natronomonas group (2%). There were two significant differences between the organisms detected in cultivation and 16S rRNA sequence results. Firstly, Haloferax spp. were frequently isolated on plates (15% of all isolates) but were not detected in the 16S rRNA sequences. Control experiments indicated that a bias against Haloferax sequences in the generation of the 16S rRNA gene library was unlikely, suggesting that Haloferax spp. readily form colonies, even though they were not a dominant group. Secondly, while the 16S rRNA gene library identified the SHOW group as a major component of the microbial community, no isolates of this group were obtained. This inability to culture members of the SHOW group remains an outstanding problem in studying the ecology of hypersaline environments.
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.
Dead Sea; Obligate halophile; Aspergillus; Penicillium; Cladosporium
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.
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.
Most of the haloarchaeal strains have been isolated from hypersaline environments such as solar evaporation ponds, salt lakes, or salt deposits, and they, with some exceptions, lyse or lose viability in very low-salt concentrations. There are no salty environments suitable for the growth of haloarchaea in Japan. Although Natrialba asiatica and Haloarcula japonica were isolated many years ago, the question, "Are haloarchaea really thriving in natural environments of Japan?" has remained unanswered.
Ten strains were isolated from a traditional Japanese-style salt field at Nie, Noto Peninsula, Japan by plating out the soil samples directly on agar plates containing 30% (w/v) salts and 0.5% yeast extract. They were most closely related to strains of three genera, Haladaptatus, Halococcus, and Halogeometricum. Survival rates in 3% and 0.5% SW (Salt Water, solutions containing salts in approximately the same proportions as found in seawater) solutions at 37°C differed considerably depending on the strains. Two strains belonging to Halogeometricum as well as the type strain Hgm. borinquense died and lysed immediately after suspension. Five strains that belonged to Halococcus and a strain that may be a member of Halogeometricum survived for 1–2 days in 0.5% SW solution. Two strains most closely related to Haladaptatus possessed extraordinary strong tolerance to low salt conditions. About 20 to 34% of the cells remained viable in 0.5% SW after 9 days incubation.
In this study we have demonstrated that haloarchaea are really thriving in the soil of Japanese-style salt field. The haloarchaeal cells, particularly the fragile strains are suggested to survive in the micropores of smaller size silt fraction, one of the components of soil. The inside of the silt particles is filled with concentrated salt solution and kept intact even upon suspension in rainwater. Possible origins of the haloarchaea isolated in this study are discussed.
Thalassosaline waters produced by the concentration of seawater are widespread and common extreme aquatic habitats. Their salinity varies from that of sea water (ca. 3.5%) to saturation for NaCl (ca. 37%). Obviously the microbiota varies dramatically throughout this range. Recent metagenomic analysis of intermediate salinity waters (19%) indicated the presence of an abundant and yet undescribed gamma-proteobacterium. Two strains belonging to this group have been isolated from saltern ponds of intermediate salinity in two Spanish salterns and were named “Spiribacter”.
The genomes of two isolates of “Spiribacter” have been fully sequenced and assembled. The analysis of metagenomic datasets indicates that microbes of this genus are widespread worldwide in medium salinity habitats representing the first ecologically defined moderate halophile. The genomes indicate that the two isolates belong to different species within the same genus. Both genomes are streamlined with high coding densities, have few regulatory mechanisms and no motility or chemotactic behavior. Metabolically they are heterotrophs with a subgroup II xanthorhodopsin as an additional energy source when light is available.
This is the first bacterium that has been proven by culture independent approaches to be prevalent in hypersaline habitats of intermediate salinity (half a way between the sea and NaCl saturation). Predictions from the proteome and analysis of transporter genes, together with a complete ectoine biosynthesis gene cluster are consistent with these microbes having the salt-out-organic-compatible solutes type of osmoregulation. All these features are also consistent with a well-adapted fully planktonic microbe while other halophiles with more complex genomes such as Salinibacter ruber might have particle associated microniches.
Halophilic bacteria; Xanthorhodopsin; Hypersaline; Saltern; Spiribacter; Moderate halophile
Maras salterns are located 3,380 m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. These salterns consist of more than 3,000 little ponds which are not interconnected and act as crystallizers where salt precipitates. These ponds are fed by hypersaline spring water rich in sodium and chloride. The microbiota inhabiting these salterns was examined by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis, and cultivation techniques. The total counts per milliliter in the ponds were around 2 × 106 to 3 × 106 cells/ml, while the spring water contained less than 100 cells/ml and did not yield any detectable FISH signal. The microbiota inhabiting the ponds was dominated (80 to 86% of the total counts) by Archaea, while Bacteria accounted for 10 to 13% of the 4′,6′-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) counts. A total of 239 16S rRNA gene clones were analyzed (132 Archaea clones and 107 Bacteria clones). According to the clone libraries, the archaeal assemblage was dominated by microorganisms related to the cosmopolitan square archaeon “Haloquadra walsbyi,” although a substantial number of the sequences in the libraries (31% of the 16S rRNA gene archaeal clones) were related to Halobacterium sp., which is not normally found in clone libraries from solar salterns. All the bacterial clones were closely related to each other and to the γ-proteobacterium “Pseudomonas halophila” DSM 3050. FISH analysis with a probe specific for this bacterial assemblage revealed that it accounted for 69 to 76% of the total bacterial counts detected with a Bacteria-specific probe. When pond water was used to inoculate solid media containing 25% total salts, both extremely halophilic Archaea and Bacteria were isolated. Archaeal isolates were not related to the isolates in clone libraries, although several bacterial isolates were very closely related to the “P. halophila” cluster found in the libraries. As observed for other hypersaline environments, extremely halophilic bacteria that had ecological relevance seemed to be easier to culture than their archaeal counterparts.
The Guerrero Negro (GN) hypersaline microbial mats have become one focus for biogeochemical studies of stratified ecosystems. The GN mats are found beneath several of a series of ponds of increasing salinity that make up a solar saltern fed from Pacific Ocean water pumped from the Laguna Ojo de Liebre near GN, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Molecular surveys of the laminated photosynthetic microbial mat below the fourth pond in the series identified an enormous diversity of bacteria in the mat, but archaea have received little attention. To determine the bulk contribution of archaeal phylotypes to the pond 4 study site, we determined the phylogenetic distribution of archaeal rRNA gene sequences in PCR libraries based on nominally universal primers. The ratios of bacterial/archaeal/eukaryotic rRNA genes, 90%/9%/1%, suggest that the archaeal contribution to the metabolic activities of the mat may be significant. To explore the distribution of archaea in the mat, sequences derived using archaeon-specific PCR primers were surveyed in 10 strata of the 6-cm-thick mat. The diversity of archaea overall was substantial albeit less than the diversity observed previously for bacteria. Archaeal diversity, mainly euryarchaeotes, was highest in the uppermost 2 to 3 mm of the mat and decreased rapidly with depth, where crenarchaeotes dominated. Only 3% of the sequences were specifically related to known organisms including methanogens. While some mat archaeal clades corresponded with known chemical gradients, others did not, which is likely explained by heretofore-unrecognized gradients. Some clades did not segregate by depth in the mat, indicating broad metabolic repertoires, undersampling, or both.
We report the 4.9-Mb genome sequence of Caenispirillum salinarum AK4T isolated from a sediment sample collected from a solar saltern at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India.