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Agarolytic culturable bacteria associated with three antarctic subtidal macroalgae

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Bacterial communities of Antarctic marine macroalgae remain largely underexplored in terms of diversity and biotechnological applications. In this study, three Antarctic subtidal macroalgae (Himantothallus grandifolius, Pantoneura plocamioides and Plocamium cartilagineum), two of them endemic of Antarctica, were investigated as a source for isolation of agar-degrading bacteria. A total of 21 epiphytic isolates showed agarolytic activity at low temperature on agar plates containing agar as the sole carbon source. 16S rRNA identification showed that the agar-degrading bacteria belonged to the genera Cellulophaga, Colwellia, Lacinutrix, Olleya, Paraglaciecola, Pseudoalteromonas and Winogradskyella. The agarase enzyme from a potential new species of the genus Olleya was selected for further purification. The enzyme was purified from the culture supernatant of Olleya sp. HG G5.3 by ammonium sulfate precipitation and ion-exchange chromatography. Molecular weight of the agarase was estimated to be 38 kDa by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). The purified enzyme exhibited activity at 4 °C, retaining > 50% of its maximum activity at this temperature. This is the first study reporting the phylogeny of agar-degrading bacteria isolated from Antarctic subtidal macroalgae and the results suggest the huge potential of Antarctic algae-associated bacteria as a source of cold-active hydrolytic enzymes of biotechnological interest.

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We thank the INACH staff at Station Prof. Julio Escudero for logistic support. Special thanks to Dr. Iván Gómez and his group (Project Anillo ART1101) for its valuable support during the field work. Verónica Sánchez Hinojosa was supported by a scholarship of the Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENESCYT) of Ecuador. This study was supported by Grant RT_06-13 from the Instituto Antártico Chileno (INACH).

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Correspondence to Sergio Leiva.

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Sánchez Hinojosa, V., Asenjo, J. & Leiva, S. Agarolytic culturable bacteria associated with three antarctic subtidal macroalgae. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 34, 73 (2018).

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