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Microb Ecol. 2002 Apr;43(3):388-96. Epub 2002 Mar 5.

The identification and characterization of osmotolerant yeast isolates from chemical wastewater evaporation ponds.

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  • 1Environmental Microbiology, The J. Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Sde Boker Campus, Israel 84990.


Ramat Hovav is a major chemical industrial park manufacturing pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and various aliphatic and aromatic halogens. All wastewater streams are collected in large evaporation ponds. Salinity in the evaporation ponds fluctuates between 3% (w/v) and saturation and pH values range between 2.0 and 10.0. We looked for microorganisms surviving in these extreme environmental conditions and found that 2 yeast strains dominate this biotope. 18S rDNA sequence analysis identified the isolates as Pichia guilliermondii and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. Both isolates grew in NaCl concentrations ranging up to 3.5 M and 2.5 M, respectively, and at a pH range of 2-10. There was a distinct difference between the Rhodotorula and Pichia strains and S. cerevisiae RS16 that served as a control strain with respect to accumulation of osmoregulators and internal ion concentrations when exposed to osmotic stress. The Pichia and Rhodotorula strains maintained high glycerol concentration also in media low in NaCl. Utilization of various carbon sources was examined. Using a tetrazolium-based assay we show that the Rhodotorula and Pichia strains are capable of utilizing a wide range of different carbon sources including anthracene, phenanthrene, and other cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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