, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 213-231

Extreme metal and acid tolerance ofEuglena mutabilis and an associated yeast from Smoking Hills, Northwest Territories, and their apparent mutualism

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In isolates ofEuglena mutabilis and an associated yeast from strongly acidic tundra ponds (pH 1.8–2.0) at the Smoking Hills, North West Territories (N.W.T.), and in isolates from acidic ponds in the Yukon, a remarkable degree of tolerance to a number of toxic elements and to very low pH has been found. Growth was used as a measure of tolerance. The tolerances to both low pH and to elevated metal concentrations were markedly enhanced when both organisms were present together. This mutualism occurred even betweenE. mutabilis from one field location and a yeast from another. In every field collection we made ofEuglena, the yeast was also found. The tolerances to metals are 10–100 times higher than the highest reported previously for algae, and include tolerance to some metals not elevated in the ponds from which isolations were made. Reciprocal combinations of algal-yeast partners suggest a generalized benefit of association and an increased benefit for co-selected pairs from a specific site. This algal-yeast association may be a major factor in allowing colonization of these extreme acid habitats, paralleling the cyanobacteria-bacterial associations of extremely alkaline waters.