, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 267-274
Date: 09 Mar 2002

Diversity of Archaea in hypersaline environments characterized by molecular-phylogenetic and cultivation studies

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The diversity of Archaea from three different hypersaline environments was analyzed and compared by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based molecular phylogenetic techniques and cultivation approaches. The samples originated from a crystallization pond of a solar saltern in Spain (FC); an alkaline lake in Nevada, USA, (EMF); and a small pond from a slag heap of a potassium mine in Germany (DIE). Except for two 16S rDNA sequences that were related to crenarchaeota from soil and did not apparently belong to the indigenous halophilic community, all sequences recovered from environmental DNA or cultivated strains grouped within the Halobacteriaceae. Mostly 16S rDNA sequences related to the genera Halorubrum and Haloarcula were detected in sample FC, and organisms belonging to these genera were also recovered by cultivation. In contrast, sequences related to five different groups of halophilic archaea were amplified from sample DIE (including novel lineages with only uncultivated phylotypes), but the organisms that were cultivated from this sample fell into different groups (i.e., Natronococcus, Halorubrum, or unaffiliated) and did not overlap with those predicted using the culture-independent approach. With respect to the highly alkaline sample, EMF, four groups were predicted from the environmental 16S rDNA sequences, two of which (Natronomonas and Haloarcula) were also recovered through cultivation together with Natronococcus isolates. In summary, we found that halophilic archaea dominate the archaeal populations in these three hypersaline environments and show that culturability of the organisms predicted by molecular surveys might strongly depend on the habitat chosen. While a number of novel halophilic archaea have been isolated, we have not been able to cultivate representatives of the new lineages that were detected in this and several other environmental studies.

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