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Vol. 19 (2), 2015, Pages: 525-37

Culturable diversity of aerobic halophilic archaea (Fam. Halobacteriaceae) from hypersaline, meromictic Transylvanian lakes

Baricz A, Cristea A, Muntean V, Teodosiu G, Andrei AS, Molnár I, Alexe M, Rakosy-Tican E, Banciu HL

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babeş-Bolyai University, 5-7 Clinicilor Street, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Perennially stratified salt lakes situated in the Transylvanian Basin (Central Romania) were surveyed for the diversity of culturable halophilic archaea (Fam. Halobacteriaceae). The physical and chemical characteristics of the waters indicated that all the investigated lakes were meromictic and neutral hypersaline. Samples collected from upper, intermediate, and deeper water layers and sediments were used for the isolation of halophilic strains followed by 16S rRNA gene-based identification and phenotypic characterization. The phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that all 191 isolates reported in this study and 43 strains previously isolated were affiliated with the family Halobacteriaceae and classified to 18 genera. Haloferax was the most frequently isolated genus (~47 %), followed by Halobacterium spp. (~12 %), and Halorubrum spp. (~11 %). Highest culturable diversity was detected in Brâncoveanu Lake, the oldest and saltiest of all studied lakes, while the opposite was observed in the most stable and least human-impacted Fără Fund Lake. One strain from Ursu Lake might possibly constitute a novel Halorubrum species as shown by phylogenetic analysis. Several haloarchaeal taxa recently described in Asian (i.e., Iran, China) saline systems were also identified as inhabiting the Transylvanian salt lakes thus expanding our knowledege on the geographic distribution of Halobacteriaceae.

Keywords: culturable haloarchaea; Genus-level diversity, Haloferax spp., Meromictic lake, site specific diversity.

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