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1.  Artisanal salt production in Aveiro/Portugal - an ecofriendly process 
Saline Systems  2011;7:3.
Solar salinas are man-made systems exploited for the extraction of salt, by solar and wind evaporation of seawater. Salt production achieved by traditional methods is associated with landscapes and environmental and patrimonial values generated throughout history. Since the mid-twentieth century, this activity has been facing a marked decline in Portugal, with most salinas either abandoned or subjected to destruction, making it necessary to find a strategy to reverse this trend.
It is, however, possible to generate revenue from salinas at several levels, not merely in terms of good quality salt production, but also by obtaining other products that can be commercialized, or by exploring their potential for tourism, and as research facilities, among others. Furthermore, with an adequate management, biodiversity can be restored to abandoned salinas, which constitute important feeding and breeding grounds for resident and migratory aquatic birds, many of which are protected by European Community Directives.
The aims of this manuscript are to present a brief overview on the current state of sea salt exploitation in Portugal and to stress the importance of recovering these salinas for the conservation of this particular environment, for the regional economy, the scientific community and the general public. The Aveiro salina complex is presented in detail, to exemplify salina structure and functioning, as well as current problems and potential solutions for artisanal salinas.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-7-3
PMCID: PMC3225316  PMID: 22053788
Salt production; Salinas; Coastal wetlands; Biodiversity; Ecosystems; Aveiro; Portugal
2.  The fate of minor alkali elements in the chemical evolution of salt lakes 
Saline Systems  2011;7:2.
Alkaline earth elements and alkali metals (Mg, Ca, Na and K) play an important role in the geochemical evolution of saline lakes as the final brine type is defined by the abundance of these elements. The role of major ions in brine evolution has been studied in great detail, but little has been done to investigate the behaviour of minor alkali elements in these systems despite their similar chemical affinities to the major cations. We have examined three major anionic brine types, chloride, sulphate, and bicarbonate-carbonate, in fifteen lakes in North America and Antarctica to determine the geochemical behaviour of lithium, rubidium, strontium, and barium. Lithium and rubidium are largely conservative in all water types, and their concentrations are the result of long-term solute input and concentration through evaporation and/or sublimation. Strontium and barium behaviours vary with anionic brine type. Strontium can be removed in sulphate and carbonate-rich lakes by the precipitation of carbonate minerals. Barium may be removed in chloride and sulphate brines by either the precipitation of barite and perhaps biological uptake.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-7-2
PMCID: PMC3213058  PMID: 21992434
3.  Protein attributes contribute to halo-stability, bioinformatics approach 
Saline Systems  2011;7:1.
Halophile proteins can tolerate high salt concentrations. Understanding halophilicity features is the first step toward engineering halostable crops. To this end, we examined protein features contributing to the halo-toleration of halophilic organisms. We compared more than 850 features for halophilic and non-halophilic proteins with various screening, clustering, decision tree, and generalized rule induction models to search for patterns that code for halo-toleration. Up to 251 protein attributes selected by various attribute weighting algorithms as important features contribute to halo-stability; from them 14 attributes selected by 90% of models and the count of hydrogen gained the highest value (1.0) in 70% of attribute weighting models, showing the importance of this attribute in feature selection modeling. The other attributes mostly were the frequencies of di-peptides. No changes were found in the numbers of groups when K-Means and TwoStep clustering modeling were performed on datasets with or without feature selection filtering. Although the depths of induced trees were not high, the accuracies of trees were higher than 94% and the frequency of hydrophobic residues pointed as the most important feature to build trees. The performance evaluation of decision tree models had the same values and the best correctness percentage recorded with the Exhaustive CHAID and CHAID models. We did not find any significant difference in the percent of correctness, performance evaluation, and mean correctness of various decision tree models with or without feature selection. For the first time, we analyzed the performance of different screening, clustering, and decision tree algorithms for discriminating halophilic and non-halophilic proteins and the results showed that amino acid composition can be used to discriminate between halo-tolerant and halo-sensitive proteins.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-7-1
PMCID: PMC3117752  PMID: 21592393
4.  HaloWeb: the haloarchaeal genomes database 
Saline Systems  2010;6:12.
Background
Complete genome sequencing together with post-genomic studies provide the opportunity for a comprehensive 'systems biology' understanding of model organisms. For maximum effectiveness, an integrated database containing genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data is necessary.
Description
To improve data access and facilitate functional genomic studies on haloarchaea in our laboratory, a dedicated database and website, named HaloWeb, was developed. It incorporates all finished and publicly released haloarchaeal genomes, including gene, protein and RNA sequences and annotation data, as well as other features such as insertion element sequences. The HaloWeb database was designed for easy data access and mining, and includes tools for tasks such as genome map generation, sequence extraction, and sequence editing. Popular resources at other sites, e.g., NCBI PubMed and BLAST, COG and KOG protein clusters, KEGG pathways, and GTOP structures were dynamically linked. The HaloWeb site is located at http://halo4.umbi.umd.edu, and at a mirror site, http://halo5.umbi.umd.edu, with all public genomic data and NCBI, KEGG, and GTOP links available for use by the academic community. The database is curated and updated on a regular basis.
Conclusions
The HaloWeb site includes all completely sequenced haloarchaeal genomes from public databases. It is currently being used as a tool for comparative genomics, including analysis of gene and genome structure, organization, and function. The database and website are up-to-date resources for researchers worldwide.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-12
PMCID: PMC3023673  PMID: 21192823
5.  Fairy, tadpole, and clam shrimps (Branchiopoda) in seasonally inundated clay pans in the western Mojave Desert and effect on primary producers 
Saline Systems  2010;6:11.
Background
Fairy shrimps (Anostraca), tadpole shrimps (Notostraca), clam shrimps (Spinicaudata), algae (primarily filamentous blue-green algae [cyanobacteria]), and suspended organic particulates are dominant food web components of the seasonally inundated pans and playas of the western Mojave Desert in California. We examined the extent to which these branchiopods controlled algal abundance and species composition in clay pans between Rosamond and Rogers Dry Lakes. We surveyed branchiopods during the wet season to estimate abundances and then conducted a laboratory microcosm experiment, in which dried sediment containing cysts and the overlying algal crust were inundated and cultured. Microcosm trials were run with and without shrimps; each type of trial was run for two lengths of time: 30 and 60 days. We estimated the effect of shrimps on algae by measuring chlorophyll content and the relative abundance of algal species.
Results
We found two species of fairy shrimps (Branchinecta mackini and B. gigas), one tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus lemmoni), and a clam shrimp (Cyzicus setosa) in our wet-season field survey. We collected Branchinecta lindahli in a pilot study, but not subsequently. The dominant taxa were C. setosa and B. mackini, but abundances and species composition varied greatly among playas. The same species found in field surveys also occurred in the microcosm experiment. There were no significant differences as a function of experimental treatments for either chlorophyll content or algal species composition (Microcoleus vaginatus dominated all treatments).
Conclusions
The results suggest that there was no direct effect of shrimps on algae. Although the pans harbored an apparently high abundance of branchiopods, these animals had little role in regulating primary producers in this environment.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-11
PMCID: PMC3019125  PMID: 21143855
6.  Biodiversity of Archaea and floral of two inland saltern ecosystems in the Alto Vinalopó Valley, Spain 
Saline Systems  2010;6:10.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-10
PMCID: PMC2984398  PMID: 20942947
7.  Comparison of four phaC genes from Haloferax mediterranei and their function in different PHBV copolymer biosyntheses in Haloarcula hispanica 
Saline Systems  2010;6:9.
Background
The halophilic archaeon Haloferax mediterranei is able to accumulate large amounts of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) with high molar fraction of 3-hydroxyvalerate (3HV) from unrelated carbon sources. A Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase composed of two subunits, PhaCHme and PhaEHme, has been identified in this strain, and shown to account for the PHBV biosynthesis.
Results
With the aid of the genome sequence of Hfx. mediterranei CGMCC 1.2087, three additional phaC genes (designated phaC1, phaC2, and phaC3) were identified, which encoded putative PhaCs. Like PhaCHme (54.8 kDa), PhaC1 (49.7 kDa) and PhaC3 (62.5 kDa) possessed the conserved motifs of type III PHA synthase, which was not observed in PhaC2 (40.4 kDa). Furthermore, the longer C terminus found in the other three PhaCs was also absent in PhaC2. Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) revealed that, among the four genes, only phaCHme was transcribed under PHA-accumulating conditions in the wild-type strain. However, heterologous coexpression of phaEHme with each phaC gene in Haloarcula hispanica PHB-1 showed that all PhaCs, except PhaC2, could lead to PHBV accumulation with various 3HV fractions. The three kinds of copolymers were characterized using gel-permeation chromatography (GPC), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Their thermal properties changed with the variations in monomer composition as well as the different molecular weights (Mw), thus might meet various application requirements.
Conclusion
We discover three cryptic phaC genes in Hfx. mediterranei, and demonstrate that genetic engineering of these newly identified phaC genes has biotechnological potential for PHBV production with tailor-made material properties.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-9
PMCID: PMC2939530  PMID: 20727166
8.  Dynamics of Sundarban estuarine ecosystem: eutrophication induced threat to mangroves 
Saline Systems  2010;6:8.
Background
Sundarbans is the largest chunk of mangrove forest and only tiger mangrove land in the world. Compared to the rich species diversity and uniqueness, very few studies have so far been conducted here, mainly due to its inaccessibility. This study explores water quality, density of biomass, species diversity, phytoplankton abundance and bacterial population of a tidal creek in Sunderban estuary during the post and pre monsoon period of 2008-09.
Results
Phytoplankton community was observed to be dominated by diatoms (Biacillariophyceae) followed by Pyrrophyceae (Dinoflagellates) and Chlorophyceae. A total of 46 taxa belonging to 6 groups were recorded. Other algal groups were Cyanophyceae, Euglenophyceae and Chrysophyceae. Species diversity was highest in summer (March) and lowest in winter season (November) in all the sample stations indicating its close correlation with ambient temperature. Species evenness was fairly high in all five stations throughout the study period. Present study indicated that dissolved oxygen, nutrients and turbidity are the limiting factors for the phytoplankton biomass. The estuary was in eutrophic condition (Chlorophyll-a ≥10 μg/L) in winter. During the month of May phytoplankton biomass declined and at high salinity level (21.2PSU) new phytoplankton species take over, which are definitely better resilient to the high saline environment. Bio-indicator species like Polykrikos schwartzil, Dinophysis norvegica and Prorocentrum concavum points to moderately polluted water quality of the estuary.
Conclusion
Eutrophication as well as presence of toxic Dinoflagellates and Cyanophyceae in the tidal creek of Sundarban estuary definitely revealed the deteriorated status of the water quality. The structure and function of the mangrove food web is unique, driven by both marine and terrestrial components. But little attention has been paid so far to the adaptive responses of mangrove biota to the various disturbances, and now our work unfolds the fact that marine status of Sundarban estuary is highly threatened which in turn will affect the ecology of the mangrove. This study indicates that ecosystem dynamics of the world heritage site Sundarban may facilitate bioinvasion putting a question mark on the sustainability of mangroves.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-8
PMCID: PMC2928246  PMID: 20699005
9.  Translation of Henrich Klebahn's 'Damaging agents of the klippfish - a contribution to the knowledge of the salt-loving organisms' 
Saline Systems  2010;6:7.
Background
Henrich Klebahn was a German linguist, mycologist and phytopathologist, who was known as Dr. Dr. h. c. Henrich Klebahn, Hauptcustos a. D., Honorarprofessor an der Hanischen Universität. He was born February 20, 1859 in Bremen, and died October 5, 1942 in Hamburg. He taught linguistics from 1885-1899, studied Natural Science at the Universities of Jena and Berlin (1881) and received his PhD from the University of Jena. In 1899, he was appointed scientific assistant at the Hamburg botanical garden, where he worked until 1905. From 1905 to 1930, he was at the agricultural institute of Bromberg. In 1921, he was named honorary professor and lecturer in cryptogams and soil biology at the Institut für Allgemeine Botanik where he taught until 1934. He is well known for his work on gas vesicles and halophiles, among other topics.
This re-print of 'Die Schädlinge des Klippfisches. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der salzliebenden Organismen. Von H. Klebahn. Mit zwei Tafeln und vier Abbildungen im Text.' was originally published in 1919 in the Jahrbuch der Hamb. Wissensch. Anstaltes. XXXVI. Beiheft pages 11-69, by Latcke & Waltt, E. H. Buchdrucker. The translators have tried to remain faithful to the contents and to the original sense of the article by minimizing modifications.
Results
The original paper reported the conclusions of a 3 year long study of the microbes causing damage to the fish industry as well as a summation of work on the subject up until 1919. The findings were that the causative agents were fungi and other microbes, the chief of which was a red, Gram-negative rod-shaped bacillus, Bacillus halobius ruber, that formed pale reddish colonies and was found to oscillate, but after extensive testing, was found not possess flagella. The initial appearance of "a shiny corpuscle" at the ends of cells was determined not to be spores; rather that it was the "result of the coherence of the light beams due to a total reflection of the light in the optically denser little rods". The cells were osmotically sensitive to the addition of water. In addition, a Gram-negative, red Sarcina morrhuae that appeared pinker in color, was less salt-sensitive than the red bacillus, in fact surviving the transfer to water. These were "round individual cells or groups of only two or four cells, usually; however, there are eight or more round cells that are arranged like cube corners to great cube-like or irregular packages lying together, just in the same manner as with the familiar Sarcina ventriculi." This organism was also identified from the walls of a fish storage room. Finally, a third, red microorganism was isolated: a Gram-negative micrococcus, Micrococcus (Diplococcus) morrhuae, which was "spherically rounded" and barely sensitive to water: "If one distributes a sample of a colony in water, the cells partly separate, to a great degree; however, they stay together in groups of two or four cells."
Conclusions
This article provides evidence for identification of halophilic microbes as the major cause of fish spoilage, and is one of the earliest publications in the field of halophile microbiology.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-7
PMCID: PMC2912921  PMID: 20569477
10.  Characterization of manganese superoxide dismutase from a marine cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya valderiana BDU20041 
Saline Systems  2010;6:6.
Background
Cyanobacteria are recognized as the primordial organisms to grace the earth with molecular oxygen ~3.5 billion years ago as a result of their oxygenic photosynthesis. This laid a selection pressure for the evolution of antioxidative defense mechanisms to alleviate the toxic effect of active oxygen species (AOS) in cyanobacteria. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) are metalloenzymes that are the first arsenal in defense mechanism against oxidative stress followed by an array of antioxidative system. Unlike other living organisms, cyanobacteria possess multiple isoforms of SOD. Hence, an attempt was made to demonstrate the oxidative stress tolerance ability of marine cyanobacterium, Leptolyngbya valderiana BDU 20041 and to PCR amplify and sequence the SOD gene, the central enzyme for alleviating stress.
Result
L. valderiana BDU 20041, a filamentous, non-heterocystous marine cyanobacterium showed tolerance to the tested dye (C.I. Acid Black 1) which is evident by increased in biomass (i.e.) chlorophyll a. The other noticeable change was the total ROS production by culture dosed with dye compared to the control cultures. This prolonged incubation showed sustenance, implying that cyanobacteria maintain their antioxidant levels. The third significant feature was a two-fold increase in SOD activity of dye treated L. valderiana BDU20041 suggesting the role of SOD in alleviating oxidative stress via Asada-Halliwell pathway. Hence, the organism was PCR amplified for SOD gene resulting in an amplicon of 550 bp. The sequence analysis illustrated the presence of first three residues involved in motif; active site residues at H4, 58 and D141 along with highly conserved Mn specific residues. The isolated gene shared 63.8% homology with MnSOD of bacteria confirmed it as Mn isoform. This is the hitherto report on SOD gene from marine cyanobacterium, L. valderiana BDU20041 of Indian subcontinent.
Conclusion
Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) coupled with induction of SOD by marine cyanobacterium, L. valderiana BDU20041 was responsible for alleviating stress caused by an azo dye, C. I. Acid Black 1. The partial SOD gene has been sequenced and based on the active site, motif and metal specific residues; it has been identified as Mn metalloform.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-6
PMCID: PMC2893185  PMID: 20525290
11.  Prokaryotic aminopeptidase activity along a continuous salinity gradient in a hypersaline coastal lagoon (the Coorong, South Australia) 
Saline Systems  2010;6:5.
The distribution and aminopeptidase activity of prokaryotes were investigated along a natural continuous salinity gradient in a hypersaline coastal lagoon, the Coorong, South Australia. The abundance of prokaryotes significantly increased from brackish to hypersaline waters and different sub-populations, defined by flow cytometry, were observed along the salinity gradient. While four sub-populations were found at each station, three additional ones were observed for 8.3% and 13.4%, suggesting a potential modification in the composition of the prokaryotic communities and/or a variation of their activity level along the salinity gradient. The aminopeptidase activity highly increased along the gradient and salinity appeared as the main factor favouring this enzymatic activity. However, while the aminopeptidase activity was dominated by free enzymes for salinities ranging from 2.6% to 13.4%, cell-attached aminopeptidase activity was predominant in more saline waters (i.e. 15.4%). Changes in substrate structure and availability, strongly related to salinity, might (i) modify patterns of both aminopeptidase activities (free and cell-associated enzymes) and (ii) obligate the prokaryotic communities to modulate rapidly their aminopeptidase activity according to the nutritive conditions available along the gradient.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-5
PMCID: PMC2882902  PMID: 20433731
12.  Introduction of a novel 18S rDNA gene arrangement along with distinct ITS region in the saline water microalga Dunaliella 
Saline Systems  2010;6:4.
Comparison of 18S rDNA gene sequences is a very promising method for identification and classification of living organisms. Molecular identification and discrimination of different Dunaliella species were carried out based on the size of 18S rDNA gene and, number and position of introns in the gene. Three types of 18S rDNA structure have already been reported: the gene with a size of ~1770 bp lacking any intron, with a size of ~2170 bp consisting one intron near 5' terminus, and with a size of ~2570 bp harbouring two introns near 5' and 3' termini. Hereby, we report a new 18S rDNA gene arrangement in terms of intron localization and nucleotide sequence in a Dunaliella isolated from Iranian salt lakes (ABRIINW-M1/2). PCR amplification with genus-specific primers resulted in production of a ~2170 bp DNA band, which is similar to that of D. salina 18S rDNA gene containing only one intron near 5' terminus. Whilst, sequence composition of the gene revealed the lack of any intron near 5' terminus in our isolate. Furthermore, another alteration was observed due to the presence of a 440 bp DNA fragment near 3' terminus. Accordingly, 18S rDNA gene of the isolate is clearly different from those of D. salina and any other Dunaliella species reported so far. Moreover, analysis of ITS region sequence showed the diversity of this region compared to the previously reported species. 18S rDNA and ITS sequences of our isolate were submitted with accesion numbers of EU678868 and EU927373 in NCBI database, respectively. The optimum growth rate of this isolate occured at the salinity level of 1 M NaCl. The maximum carotenoid content under stress condition of intense light (400 μmol photon m-2 s-1), high salinity (4 M NaCl) and deficiency of nitrate and phosphate nutritions reached to 240 ng/cell after 15 days.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-4
PMCID: PMC2867797  PMID: 20377865
13.  bbThermodynamic quantities and Urmia Sea water evaporation 
Saline Systems  2010;6:3.
The relation between climatic parameters (relative air humidity) and the water activity of the Urmia Sea water determines the possible maximum evaporation of the lake. Using the Pitzer thermodynamic approach, the activity of the Urmia Lake water during evaporation was calculated and compared to the present relative air humidity above the water. Present climatic conditions allow the Urmia Sea water to evaporate down to water with activity of 0.55, corresponding to the lowest air humidity measured over the lake. This water activity falls in the range of halite precipitation, while carnalite precipitation starts at somewhat lower (a H2O = 0.499) point. Our dynamic model predicts that for air humidity as low as 55% (reflecting present climate conditions), the Urmia Sea level may drop to as low as 1270 m (i. e., 1270 m above mean sea level). At that point, the lake water volume will have a volume of 11 km3. For the sake of comparison, at the beginning of 1990, the level of the lake was 1275 m, its volume was 25 km3, and its surface area was 5145 km2.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-3
PMCID: PMC2873240  PMID: 20356384
14.  Distribution of picophytoplankton communities from brackish to hypersaline waters in a South Australian coastal lagoon 
Saline Systems  2010;6:2.
Background
Picophytoplankton (i.e. cyanobacteria and pico-eukaryotes) are abundant and ecologically critical components of the autotrophic communities in the pelagic realm. These micro-organisms colonized a variety of extreme environments including high salinity waters. However, the distribution of these organisms along strong salinity gradient has barely been investigated. The abundance and community structure of cyanobacteria and pico-eukaryotes were investigated along a natural continuous salinity gradient (1.8% to 15.5%) using flow cytometry.
Results
Highest picophytoplankton abundances were recorded under salinity conditions ranging between 8.0% and 11.0% (1.3 × 106 to 1.4 × 106 cells ml-1). Two populations of picocyanobacteria (likely Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus) and 5 distinct populations of pico-eukaryotes were identified along the salinity gradient. The picophytoplankton cytometric-richness decreased with salinity and the most cytometrically diversified community (4 to 7 populations) was observed in the brackish-marine part of the lagoon (i.e. salinity below 3.5%). One population of pico-eukaryote dominated the community throughout the salinity gradient and was responsible for the bloom observed between 8.0% and 11.0%. Finally only this halotolerant population and Prochlorococcus-like picocyanobacteria were identified in hypersaline waters (i.e. above 14.0%). Salinity was identified as the main factor structuring the distribution of picophytoplankton along the lagoon. However, nutritive conditions, viral lysis and microzooplankton grazing are also suggested as potentially important players in controlling the abundance and diversity of picophytoplankton along the lagoon.
Conclusions
The complex patterns described here represent the first observation of picophytoplankton dynamics along a continuous gradient where salinity increases from 1.8% to 15.5%. This result provides new insight into the distribution of pico-autotrophic organisms along strong salinity gradients and allows for a better understanding of the overall pelagic functioning in saline systems which is critical for the management of these precious and climatically-stress ecosystems.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-2
PMCID: PMC2847571  PMID: 20178652
15.  Culture independent molecular analysis of bacterial communities in the mangrove sediment of Sundarban, India 
Saline Systems  2010;6:1.
Background
Sundarban is the world's largest coastal sediment comprising of mangrove forest which covers about one million hectares in the south-eastern parts of India and southern parts of Bangladesh. The microbial diversity in this sediment is largely unknown till date. In the present study an attempt has been made to understand the microbial diversity in this sediment using a cultivation-independent molecular approach.
Results
Two 16 S rRNA gene libraries were constructed and partial sequencing of the selected clones was carried out to identify bacterial strains present in the sediment. Phylogenetic analysis of partially sequenced 16 S rRNA gene sequences revealed the diversity of bacterial strains in the Sundarban sediment. At least 8 different bacterial phyla were detected. The major divisions of detected bacterial phyla were Proteobacteria (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta), Flexibacteria (CFB group), Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, Planctomycetes and Gammatimonadates.
Conclusion
The gammaproteobacteria were found to be the most abundant bacterial group in Sundarban sediment. Many clones showed similarity with previously reported bacterial lineages recovered from various marine sediments. The present study indicates a probable hydrocarbon and oil contamination in this sediment. In the present study, a number of clones were identified that have shown similarity with bacterial clones or isolates responsible for the maintenance of the S-cycle in the saline environment.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-6-1
PMCID: PMC2837041  PMID: 20163727
16.  Biodiversity of poly-extremophilic Bacteria: Does combining the extremes of high salt, alkaline pH and elevated temperature approach a physico-chemical boundary for life? 
Saline Systems  2009;5:9.
Bacterial microorganisms that grow optimally at Na+ concentrations of 1.7 M, or the equivalent of 10% (w/v) NaCl, and greater are considered to be extreme halophiles. This review focuses on the correlation between the extent of alkaline pH and elevated temperature optima and the extent of salt tolerance of extremely halophilic eubacteria; the focus is on those with alkaline pH optima, above 8.5, and elevated temperature optima, above 50°C. If all three conditions are required for optimal growth, these microorganisms are termed "poly-extremophiles". However, only a very few extreme halophiles able to grow optimally under alkaline conditions as well as at elevated temperatures have been isolated so far. Therefore the question is: do the combined extreme growth conditions of the recently isolated poly-extremophiles, i.e., anaerobic halophilic alkalithermophiles, approach a physico-chemical boundary for life? These poly-extremophiles are of interest, as their adaptive mechanisms give insight into organisms' abilities to survive in environments which were previously considered prohibitive to life, as well as to possible properties of early evolutionary and extraterrestrial life forms.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-9
PMCID: PMC2785825  PMID: 19930649
17.  A systems biology approach to investigate the response of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 to a high salt environment 
Saline Systems  2009;5:8.
Background
Salt overloading during agricultural processes is causing a decrease in crop productivity due to saline sensitivity. Salt tolerant cyanobacteria share many cellular characteristics with higher plants and therefore make ideal model systems for studying salinity stress. Here, the response of fully adapted Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 cells to the addition of 6% w/v NaCl was investigated using proteomics combined with targeted analysis of transcripts.
Results
Isobaric mass tagging of peptides led to accurate relative quantitation and identification of 378 proteins, and approximately 40% of these were differentially expressed after incubation in BG-11 media supplemented with 6% salt for 9 days. Protein abundance changes were related to essential cellular functional alterations. Differentially expressed proteins involved in metabolic responses were also analysed using the probabilitistic tool Mixed Model on Graphs (MMG), where the role of energy conversion through glycolysis and reducing power through pentose phosphate pathway were highlighted. Temporal RT-qPCR experiments were also run to investigate protein expression changes at the transcript level, for 14 non-metabolic proteins. In 9 out of 14 cases the mRNA changes were in accordance with the proteins.
Conclusion
Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 has the ability to regulate essential metabolic processes to enable survival in high salt environments. This adaptation strategy is assisted by further regulation of proteins involved in non-metabolic cellular processes, supported by transcriptional and post-transcriptional control. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of using a systems biology approach in answering environmental, and in particular, salt adaptation questions in Synechocystis sp. PCC6803
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-8
PMCID: PMC2743698  PMID: 19735556
18.  Molt-inhibiting hormone stimulates vitellogenesis at advanced ovarian developmental stages in the female blue crab, Callinectes sapidus 1: an ovarian stage dependent involvement 
Saline Systems  2009;5:7.
To understand the hormonal coordination of the antagonism between molting and reproduction in crustaceans, the terminally anecdysial mature female Callinectes sapidus was used as a model. The regulatory roles of crustacean hyperglycemic hormone (CHH) and molt-inhibiting hormone (MIH) in vitellogenesis were examined. A competitive specific RIA was used to measure the levels of MIH and CHH in the hemolymphs of mature females at pre- and mid- vitellogenic stages, and their effects on vitellogenesis at early (early 2, E2) and mid vitellogenesis (3) stages were determined in vitro. A hepatopancreas fragments incubation system was developed and the levels of vitellogenin (VtG), as well as VtG mRNA and heterogeneous nuclear (hn)VtG RNA were determined using RIA or QPCR, respectively. MIH titers were four times higher at mid-vitellogenesis than at pre-vitellogenesis, while CHH levels in the hemolymph were constant. In the in vitro incubation experiments, MIH increased both VtG mRNA levels and secretion at ovarian stage 3. At stage E2, however, MIH resulted in a mixed response: downregulation of VtG mRNA and upregulation of hnVtG RNA. CHH had no effect on any of the parameters. Actinomycin D blocked the stimulatory effects of MIH in stage 3 animals on VtG mRNA and VtG, while cycloheximide attenuated only VtG levels, confirming the MIH stimulatory effect at this stage. MIH is a key endocrine regulator in the coordination of molting and reproduction in the mature female C. sapidus, which simultaneously inhibits molt and stimulates vitellogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-7
PMCID: PMC2715418  PMID: 19583852
19.  Molt-inhibiting hormone stimulates vitellogenesis at advanced ovarian developmental stages in the female blue crab, Callinectes sapidus 2: novel specific binding sites in hepatopancreas and cAMP as a second messenger 
Saline Systems  2009;5:6.
The finding that molt-inhibiting hormone (MIH) regulates vitellogenesis in the hepatopancreas of mature Callinectes sapidus females, raised the need for the characterization of its mode of action. Using classical radioligand binding assays, we located specific, saturable, and non-cooperative binding sites for MIH in the Y-organs of juveniles (J-YO) and in the hepatopancreas of vitellogenic adult females. MIH binding to the hepatopancreas membranes had an affinity 77 times lower than that of juvenile YO membranes (KD values: 3.22 × 10-8 and 4.19 × 10-10 M/mg protein, respectively). The number of maximum binding sites (BMAX) was approximately two times higher in the hepatopancreas than in the YO (BMAX values: 9.24 × 10-9 and 4.8 × 10-9 M/mg protein, respectively). Furthermore, MIH binding site number in the hepatopancreas was dependent on ovarian stage and was twice as high at stage 3 than at stages 2 and 1. SDS-PAGE separation of [125I] MIH or [125I] crustacean hyperglycemic hormone (CHH) crosslinked to the specific binding sites in the membranes of the J-YO and hepatopancreas suggests a molecular weight of ~51 kDa for a MIH receptor in both tissues and a molecular weight of ~61 kDa for a CHH receptor in the hepatopancreas. The use of an in vitro incubation of hepatopancreas fragments suggests that MIH probably utilizes cAMP as a second messenger in this tissue, as cAMP levels increased in response to MIH. Additionally, 8-Bromo-cAMP mimicked the effects of MIH on vitellogenin (VtG) mRNA and heterogeneous nuclear (hn) VtG RNA levels. The results imply that the functions of MIH in the regulation of molt and vitellogenesis are mediated through tissue specific receptors with different kinetics and signal transduction. MIH ability to regulate vitellogenesis is associated with the appearance of MIH specific membrane binding sites in the hepatopancreas upon pubertal/final molt.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-6
PMCID: PMC2714851  PMID: 19583849
20.  DNA fingerprinting differentiation between β-carotene hyperproducer strains of Dunaliella from around the world 
Saline Systems  2009;5:5.
Background
Dunaliella salina is the most important species of the genus for β-carotene production. Several investigations have demonstrated that D. salina produces more than 10% dry weight of pigment and that the species grows in salt saturated lagoons. High plasticity in the green stage and the almost indistinguishable differences in the red phase make identification and differentiation of species and ecotypes very difficult and time consuming.
Results
In this work, we applied our intron-sizing method to compare the 18S rDNA fingerprint between D. salina (CCAP 19/18), D. salina/bardawil (UTEX LB2538) and β-carotene hyperproducing strains of Dunaliella isolated from salt saturated lagoons in Baja, Mexico. All hyperproducer strains reached β-carotene levels of about 10 pg/cell. Optical microscopy did not allow to differentiate between these Dunaliella strains; however, 18S rDNA fingerprinting methodology allowed us to differentiate D. salina from D. salina/bardawil.
Conclusion
In Baja Mexico we found D. salina and D. salina/bardawil species by using intron-sizing-method. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Dunaliella 18S rDNA gene sequences were analyzed with our methodology and extraordinary correlation was found with experimental results.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-5
PMCID: PMC2710335  PMID: 19563682
21.  Molecular characterization and the effect of salinity on cyanobacterial diversity in the rice fields of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India 
Saline Systems  2009;5:4.
Background
Salinity is known to affect almost half of the world's irrigated lands, especially rice fields. Furthermore, cyanobacteria, one of the critical inhabitants of rice fields have been characterized at molecular level from many different geographical locations. This study, for the first time, has examined the molecular diversity of cyanobacteria inhabiting Indian rice fields which experience various levels of salinity.
Results
Ten physicochemical parameters were analyzed for samples collected from twenty experimental sites. Electrical conductivity data were used to classify the soils and to investigate relationship between soil salinity and cyanobacterial diversity. The cyanobacterial communities were analyzed using semi-nested 16S rRNA gene PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Out of 51 DGGE bands selected for sequencing only 31 which showed difference in sequences were subjected to further analysis. BLAST analysis revealed highest similarity for twenty nine of the sequences with cyanobacteria, and the other two to plant plastids. Clusters obtained based on morphological and molecular attributes of cyanobacteria were correlated to soil salinity. Among six different clades, clades 1, 2, 4 and 6 contained cyanobacteria inhabiting normal or low saline (having EC < 4.0 ds m-1) to (high) saline soils (having EC > 4.0 ds m-1), however, clade 5 represented the cyanobacteria inhabiting only saline soils. Whilst, clade 3 contained cyanobacteria from normal soils. The presence of DGGE band corresponding to Aulosira strains were present in large number of soil indicating its wide distribution over a range of salinities, as were Nostoc, Anabaena, and Hapalosiphon although to a lesser extent in the sites studied.
Conclusion
Low salinity favored the presence of heterocystous cyanobacteria, while very high salinity mainly supported the growth of non-heterocystous genera. High nitrogen content in the low salt soils is proposed to be a result of reduced ammonia volatilization compared to the high salt soils. Although many environmental factors could potentially determine the microbial community present in these multidimensional ecosystems, changes in the diversity of cyanobacteria in rice fields was correlated to salinity.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-4
PMCID: PMC2680867  PMID: 19344531
22.  Egg banks in hypersaline lakes of the South-East Europe 
Saline Systems  2009;5:3.
The cyst banks of 6 coastal hypersaline lakes of South-East Europe have been investigated. The study concerned the bottom sediments of Khersonesskoe and Koyashskoe lakes in the Crimea (Ukraine), Nartë saltworks (Albania), Vecchia Salina at Torre Colimena (Apulia, Italy), Pantano Grande and Pantano Roveto at Vendicari (Sicily, Italy). A total of 19 cyst types were recognised. The cyst banks of lakes were found to be well separated in the representation derived from a statistical multivariate data analysis. For all the lakes examined a comparison was possible between the resting community in sediments (cyst bank) and the active one in the water. The cyst banks contained more species than those recorded over a multi-year sampling effort in the water column. The study of cyst hatching, performed on 5 cyst types under lab conditions, demonstrated that cysts do not hatch under the same conditions. Furthermore, each cyst type shows a wide range of preferential hatching conditions, which allow us to confirm the ecological generalism of salt lake species.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-3
PMCID: PMC2662865  PMID: 19292906
23.  Long-term surveillance of sulfate-reducing bacteria in highly saline industrial wastewater evaporation ponds 
Saline Systems  2009;5:2.
Abundance and seasonal dynamics of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), in general, and of extreme halophilic SRB (belonging to Desulfocella halophila) in particular, were examined in highly saline industrial wastewater evaporation ponds over a forty one month period. Industrial wastewater was sampled and the presence of SRB was determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) with a set of primers designed to amplify the dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrA) gene. SRB displayed higher abundance during the summer (106–108 targets ml-1) and lower abundance from the autumn-spring (103–105 targets ml-1). However, addition of concentrated dissolved organic matter into the evaporation ponds during winter immediately resulted in a proliferation of SRB, despite the lower wastewater temperature (12–14°C). These results indicate that the qPCR approach can be used for rapid measurement of SRB to provide valuable information about the abundance of SRB in harsh environments, such as highly saline industrial wastewaters. Low level of H2S has been maintained over five years, which indicates a possible inhibition of SRB activity, following artificial salination (≈16% w/v of NaCl) of wastewater evaporation ponds, despite SRB reproduction being detected by qPCR.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-2
PMCID: PMC2652471  PMID: 19226456
24.  Patterns of seasonal phytoplankton distribution in prairie saline lakes of the northern Great Plains (U.S.A.) 
Saline Systems  2009;5:1.
Seasonal changes in freshwater phytoplankton communities have been extensively studied, but key drivers of phytoplankton in saline lakes are currently not well understood. Comparative lake studies of 19 prairie saline lakes in the northern Great Plains (USA) were conducted in spring and summer of 2004, with data gathered for a suite of limnological parameters. Nutrient enrichment assays for natural phytoplankton assemblages were also performed in spring and summer of 2006. Canonical correspondence analysis of 2004 data showed salinity (logCl), nitrogen, and phosphorus (N:P ratios) to be the main drivers of phytoplankton distribution in the spring, and phosphorus (C:P ratios), iron (logTFe), and nitrogen (logTN) as important factors in the summer. Despite major differences in nutrient limitation patterns (P-limitation in freshwater systems, N-limitation in saline systems), seasonal patterns of phytoplankton phyla changes in these saline lakes were similar to those of freshwater systems. Dominance shifted from diatoms in the spring to cyanobacteria in the summer. Nutrient enrichment assays (control, +Fe, +N, +P, +N+P) in 2006 indicated that nutrient limitation is generally more consistent within lakes than for individual taxa across systems, with widespread nitrogen and secondary phosphorus limitation. Understanding phytoplankton community structure provides insight into the overall ecology of saline lakes, and will assist in the future conservation and management of these valuable and climatically-sensitive systems.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-5-1
PMCID: PMC2631472  PMID: 19123939
25.  A trehalose 6-phosphate synthase gene of the hemocytes of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus: cloning, the expression, its enzyme activity and relationship to hemolymph trehalose levels 
Saline Systems  2008;4:18.
Trehalose in ectoderms functions in energy metabolism and protection in extreme environmental conditions. We structurally characterized trehalose 6-phosphate synthase (TPS) from hemocytes of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. C. sapidus Hemo TPS (CasHemoTPS), like insect TPS, encodes both TPS and trehalose phosphate phosphatase domains. Trehalose seems to be a major sugar, as it shows higher levels than does glucose in hemocytes and hemolymph. Increases in HemoTPS expression, TPS enzyme activity in hemocytes, and hemolymph trehalose levels were determined 24 h after lipopolysaccharide challenge, suggesting that both TPS and TPP domains of CasHemoTPS are active and functional. The TPS gene has a wide tissue distribution in C. sapidus, suggesting multiple biosynthetic sites. A correlation between TPS activity in hemocytes and hemolymph trehalose levels was found during the molt cycle. The current study provides the first evidence of presence of trehalose in hemocytes and TPS in tissues of C. sapidus and implicates its functional role in energy metabolism and physiological adaptation.
doi:10.1186/1746-1448-4-18
PMCID: PMC2615023  PMID: 19077285

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