Moderately halophilic gram-positive bacterial diversity in hypersaline environments
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Moderately halophilic bacteria are microorganisms that grow optimally in media containing 3%–15% (w/v) salt. They are represented by a heterogeneous group of microorganisms included in many different genera. Gram-negative moderately halophilic bacteria have been studied in more detail, but studies on gram-positive species are more scarce. Recent studies carried out by our research group on gram-positive moderate halophiles have permitted clarifying their taxonomic and phylogenetic position and describing new species. Thus, we have isolated six strains from ponds of salterns that show phenotypic and genotypic characteristics similar to those of Nesterenkonia halobia (formerly Micrococcus halobius), a moderately halophilic gram-positive coccus that was described on the basis of a single strain. Our data demonstrate quite clearly that they are members of this species and contribute to a better description of these moderately halophilic cocci. Similarly, a study of a large number of gram-positive moderately halophilic rods that were able to produce endospores led us to describe a new species, designated Bacillus salexigens. Further, isolates grouped in other three phenons, obtained by numerical taxonomy analysis and showing phenotypic features quite similar to those of this species, represent different genomovars, with very low DNA-DNA homology. Although they might represent additional new species, it will be necessary to determine new phenotypic features to differentiate them from previously described Bacillus species. We have also studied the viability of some old enrichments provided by B.E. Volcani, which were set up in 1936. We isolated 31 gram-positive motile endospore-forming rods that, according to their phenotypic characteristics, could represent a new species of the genus Bacillus.
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