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1.  Microbes in Beach Sands: Integrating Environment, Ecology and Public Health 
Beach sand is a habitat that supports many microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa (micropsammon). The apparently inhospitable conditions of beach sand environments belie the thriving communities found there. Physical factors, such as water availability and protection from insolation; biological factors, such as competition, predation, and biofilm formation; and nutrient availability all contribute to the characteristics of the micropsammon. Sand microbial communities include autochthonous species/phylotypes indigenous to the environment. Allochthonous microbes, including fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and waterborne pathogens, are deposited via waves, runoff, air, or animals. The fate of these microbes ranges from death, to transient persistence and/or replication, to establishment of thriving populations (naturalization) and integration in the autochthonous community. Transport of the micropsammon within the habitat occurs both horizontally across the beach, and vertically from the sand surface and ground water table, as well as at various scales including interstitial flow within sand pores, sediment transport for particle-associated microbes, and the large-scale processes of wave action and terrestrial runoff. The concept of beach sand as a microbial habitat and reservoir of FIB and pathogens has begun to influence our thinking about human health effects associated with sand exposure and recreational water use. A variety of pathogens have been reported from beach sands, and recent epidemiology studies have found some evidence of health risks associated with sand exposure. Persistent or replicating populations of FIB and enteric pathogens have consequences for watershed/beach management strategies and regulatory standards for safe beaches. This review summarizes our understanding of the community structure, ecology, fate, transport, and public health implications of microbes in beach sand. It concludes with recommendations for future work in this vastly under-studied area.
PMCID: PMC4219924  PMID: 25383070
beach sand; fecal indicator bacteria; psammon; pathogens; fate; water quality
2.  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

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