Κυριακή, 14 Απριλίου 2019


In Memoriam: Maria Ciaramella (1958–2018)

Fungi, a neglected component of acidophilic biofilms: do they have a potential for biotechnology?


Fungi from extreme environments, including acidophilic ones, belong to biotechnologically most attractive organisms. They can serve as a source of enzymes and metabolites with potentially uncommon properties and may actively participate within bioremediation processes. In respect of their biotechnological potential, extremophilic fungi are mostly studied as individual species. Nevertheless, microorganisms rarely live separately and they form biofilms instead. Living in biofilms is the most successful life strategy on the Earth and the biofilm is the most abundant form of life in extreme environments including highly acidic ones. Compared to bacterial fraction, fungal part of acidophilic biofilms represents a largely unexplored source of organisms with possible use in biotechnology and especially data on biofilms of highly acidic soils are missing. The functioning of the biofilm results from interactions between organisms whose metabolic capabilities are efficiently combined. When we look on acidophilic fungi and their biotechnological potential we should take this fact into account as well. The practical problem to be resolved in connection with extensive studies of exploitable properties and abilities of acidophilic fungi is the methodology of isolation of strains from the nature. In this respect, novel isolation techniques should be developed.

Response of neutrophilic Shewanella violacea to acid stress: growth rate, organic acid production, and gene expression


Neutrophilic Shewanella violacea is isolated from deep-sea sediments and its response to high pressure and high salinity has been investigated. Here, the pure effects of acidic pH on S. violacea physiology were examined, aiming at further understanding of its stress response mechanism. S. violacea could grow at initial pH of 5.0–7.0 without pH adjustment during the test at atmospheric pressure, and the lowest growth rate was obtained at pH 5.0. The pH of the same growth culture with an initial pH of 5.0 rose toward a neutral pH of ~ 7.0 at the exponential growth phase, indicating that S. violacea has a mechanism for acid neutralization. When S. violaceacells were grown at the fixed pH of 5.0, about five times higher concentrations of butyric and isovaleric acids were produced than at pH 7.0. The expression level of the genes encoding three enzymes for isovaleric acid synthesis from l-leucine was also found to be upregulated in S. violacea cells grown at the fixed pH of 5.0 compared with at pH 7.0 through RNA-seq analysis. Therefore, S. violacea at least produces isovaleric acid in its response to acid stress, which further deepens our understanding of the stress response mechanism inherent in this bacterium.

Alkaline soda Lake Velika Rusanda (Serbia): the first insight into diatom diversity of this extreme saline lake


Alkaline soda lakes are unique habitats found in specific geographic regions, usually with dry climate. The Carpathian Basin is one of those regions very important for habitat and biodiversity conservation in Europe, with natural soda lakes found in Austria, Hungary and Serbia. In comparison to other two countries from Central Europe, algal biodiversity studies of saline soda lakes in Serbia are scarce. Lake Velika Rusanda has the highest measured salinity of all saline lakes in the Carpathian Basin and there were no reports of its diatom species richness and diversity till now. We conducted 2-year investigation programme to study biodiversity and seasonal dynamics of diatoms in this lake. A total of 27 diatom taxa were found, almost all of them attached to reed and much less in benthos and plankton. Five new diatom species for Serbia were recorded, Craticula halopannonicaNavicymbula pusillaHantzschia weyprechtiiNitzschia thermaloides and Navicula staffordiae. The last mentioned is new for Europe as well. Lake Velika Rusanda is inhabited mostly by alkaliphilous and halophilic diatoms. Since diatoms are used as bioindicators in soda lakes, our results will improve their further application in ecological status assessment of these fragile habitats in the Carpathian Basin.

Enrichment of anaerobic heterotrophic thermophiles from four Azorean hot springs revealed different community composition and genera abundances using recalcitrant substrates


DGGE analysis combined with a metagenomic approach was used to get insights into heterotrophic anoxic enrichment cultures of four hot springs of Vale das Furnas, Portugal, using the recalcitrant substrate spent coffee ground (SCG). Parallel enrichment cultures were performed using the major components of spent coffee ground, namely arabinogalactan, galactomannan, cellulose, and proteins. DGGE revealed that heterotrophic thermophilic bacteria are highly abundant in the hydrothermal springs and significant differences in community composition depending on the substrate were observed. DNA, isolated from enrichment cultures of different locations that were grown on the same substrate were pooled, and the respective metagenomes were analyzed. Results indicated that cultures grown on recalcitrant substrate SCG consists of a totally different thermophilic community, dominated by Dictyoglomus. Enrichments with galactomannan and arabinogalactan were dominated by Thermodesulfovibrio, while cultures with casein and cellulose were dominated by Thermus. This study indicates the high potential of thermophilic bacteria degrading recalcitrant substrate such as SCG and furthermore how the accessibility to complex polymers shapes the bacterial community.

The diversity, distribution, and pathogenic potential of cultivable fungi present in rocks from the South Shetlands archipelago, Maritime Antarctica


We studied the molecular taxonomy and diversity of cultivable rock fungi from Antarctic islands. From 50 rock samples, 386 fungal isolates were obtained and identified as 33 taxa of 20 genera. The genera CladophialophoraCladosporiumCyphellophoraEichleriellaParacladophialophora, and Penicillium displayed the highest densities. Ecological diversity indices showed that the fungal assemblages are diverse and rich with low dominance. The genera CladophialophoraCladosporium, and Penicillium showed a broad distribution from rocks of the various islands. One hundred and fifty-nine fungi, grown at 37 °C, were identified as Penicillium chrysogenumFusarium sp., and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. One hundred and three fungi displayed haemolytic activity, 81 produced proteinase, 9 produced phospholipase, and 25 presented dimorphism and a spore diameter ≤ 4 µm. The Antarctic Peninsula region appears to be under the effects of global climate changes, which may expose and accelerate the rock's weathering processes, and expose and release cryptic fungi and other microbes, especially those with innate pathogenic potential, previously arrested in rocks. Consequently, these rocks and their particles may represent a vehicle for the dispersal of microbial propagules, including those able to spread pathogens, along, across, and out of Antarctica.

Labelling halophilic Archaea using 13 C and 15 N stable isotopes: a potential tool to investigate haloarchaea consumption by metazoans


The use of stable isotope (SI) labelling and tracing of live diets is currently considered one of the most comprehensive tools to detect their uptake and assimilation by aquatic organisms. These techniques are indeed widely used in nutritional studies to follow the fate of specific microbial dietary components, unraveling trophic interactions. Nevertheless, to the current date our understanding of aquatic trophic relationships has yet to include a whole domain of life, the Archaea. The aim of the present research was, therefore, to describe a halophilic Archaea (haloarchaea) labelling procedure, using the SI 13C and 15N, to enable the application of SI tracing in future studies of haloarchaea consumption by aquatic metazoans. To this end, three 13C enriched carbon sources and two 15N enriched nitrogen sources were tested as potential labels to enrich cells of three haloarchaea strains when supplemented to the culture medium. Our overall results indicate 13C-glycerol as the most effective carbon source to achieve an efficient 13C enrichment in haloarchaea cells, with Δδ13C values above 5000‰ in all tested haloarchaea strains. As for 15N enriched nitrogen sources, both (15NH4)2SO4 and 15NH4Cl seem to be readily assimilated, also resulting in efficient 15N enrichment in haloarchaea cells, with Δδ15N values higher than 20,000‰. We believe that the proposed methodology will allow for the use of SI labelled haloarchaea biomass in feeding tests, potentially providing unambiguous confirmation of the assimilation of haloarchaea biomass by aquatic metazoans.

Temperature adaptation of DNA ligases from psychrophilic organisms


DNA ligases operating at low temperatures have potential advantages for use in biotechnological applications. For this reason, we have characterized the temperature optima and thermal stabilities of three minimal Lig E-type ATP-dependent DNA ligase originating from Gram-negative obligate psychrophilic bacteria. The three ligases, denoted Vib-Lig, Psy-Lig, and Par-Lig, show a remarkable range of thermal stabilities and optima, with the first bearing all the hallmarks of a genuinely cold-adapted enzyme, while the latter two have activity and stability profiles more typical of mesophilic proteins. A comparative approach based on sequence comparison and homology modeling indicates that the cold-adapted features of Vib-Lig may be ascribed to differences in surface charge rather than increased local or global flexibility which is consistent with the contemporary emerging paradigm of the physical basis of cold adaptation of enzymes.

Sedimentary Marl mudstone as a substrate in a xeric environment revealed by microbiome analysis


The sedimentary Marl mudstone soil is composed primarily of CaCO3, and is an important pedologic and geomorphologic element known as Marl, extensively dispersed in slopes and ridges in the northern Negev Desert, Israel. The wide Marl soil-layer areas are barren, with well-developed streamsides and no perennial vegetation cover. Soil systems in the Negev Desert have been widely studied, yet very little information was collected on Marl soils, and even less on the microbiome present in the Negev. Thus, an evaluation of the microbial-community inhabitants in a Marl soil layer was conducted in an attempt to distinguish between Marl with surface green mat and bare Marl soil layer. Our objective was to investigate the microbiome and abiotic components of the upper layer (0–5 cm) of Marl and Marl-with-green-mat soil collected in the Negev Desert. Plate-counting enabled the estimation of fungal and bacterial population size, while nested polymerase chain reaction (nPCR) and Ion Torrent sequencing were used to analyze biological diversity. The results indicate significant differences in microbial biomass and microbial-community diversity between Marl and Marl-green mat, despite similar pH levels. Further study is needed to enhance understanding of the activity of the biotic components and their contribution to slope stabilization.

Change in the microbial community of saline geothermal fluids amended with a scaling inhibitor: effects of heat extraction and nitrate dosage


Geothermal plants are often affected by corrosion caused by microbial metabolites such as H2S. In the Bad Blumau (Austria) geothermal system, an increase in microbially produced H2S was observed in the hot (107 °C) and scaling inhibitor-amended saline fluids and in fluids that had cooled down (45 °C). Genetic fingerprinting and quantification revealed the dominance, increasing abundance and diversity of sulfate reducers such as Desulfotomaculum spp. that accompanied the cooling and processing of the geothermal fluids. In addition, a δ34S isotopic signature showed the microbial origin of the H2S that has been produced either chemolithotrophically or chemoorganotrophically. A nitrate addition test in a test pipe as a countermeasure against the microbial H2S formation caused a shift from a biocenosis dominated by bacteria of the phylum Firmicutes to a community of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. Nitrate supported the growth of nitrate-reducing sulfur-oxidizing Thiobacillus thioparus, which incompletely reduced nitrate to nitrite. The addition of nitrate led to a change in the composition of the sulfate-reducing community. As a result, representatives of nitrate- and nitrite-reducing SRB, such as Desulfovibrio and Desulfonatronum, emerged as additional community members. The interaction of sulfate-reducing bacteria and nitrate-reducing sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (NR-SOB) led to the removal of H2S, but increased the corrosion rate in the test pipe.

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