Microbial community structure analysis of a benzoate-degrading halophilic archaeal enrichment
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A benzoate-degrading archaeal enrichment was developed using sediment samples from Rozel Point at Great Salt Lake, UT. The enrichment degraded benzoate as the sole carbon source at salinity ranging from 2.0 to 5.0 M NaCl with highest rate of degradation observed at 4.0 M. The enrichment was also tested for its ability to grow on other aromatic compounds such as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HBA), gentisic acid, protocatechuic acid (PCA), catechol, benzene and toluene as the sole sources of carbon and energy. Of these, the culture only utilized 4-HBA as the carbon source. To determine the initial steps in benzoate degradation pathway, a survey of ring-oxidizing and ring-cleaving genes was performed using degenerate PCR primers. Results showed the presence of 4-hydroxybenzoate 3-monooxygenase (4-HBMO) and protocatechuate 3, 4-dioxygenase (3,4-PCA) genes suggesting that the archaeal enrichment might degrade benzoate to 4-HBA that is further converted to PCA by 4-HBMO and, thus, formed PCA would undergo ring-cleavage by 3,4-PCA to form intermediates that enter the Krebs cycle. Small subunit rRNA gene-based diversity survey revealed that the enrichment consisted entirely of class Halobacteria members belonging to the genera Halopenitus, Halosarcina, Natronomonas, Halosimplex, Halorubrum, Salinarchaeum and Haloterrigena. Of these, Halopenitus was the dominant group accounting for almost 91 % of the total sequences suggesting their potential role in degrading oxygenated aromatic compounds at extreme salinity.
KeywordsHalophilic archaea Benzoate degradation Pyrosequencing High salinity Aromatic compounds
We thank Dr. J. Parnell, Utah State University for collecting sediment samples from Rozel Point at the Great Salt Lake, UT. We also thank Dr. Scot Dowd, Research and Testing Laboratory, Lubbock, TX, USA for pyrosequencing. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant OCE1049301) and the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University.
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