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Microb Ecol. 2004 Nov;48(4):541-9. Epub 2004 Oct 28.

DNA-repair potential of Halomonas spp. from the Salt Plains Microbial Observatory of Oklahoma.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


The Great Salt Plains (GSP), an unvegetated, barren salt flat that is part of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge near Cherokee, Oklahoma, is the site of the Salt Plains Microbial Observatory. At the GSP the briny remains of an ancient sea rise to the surface, evaporate under dry conditions, and leave crusts of white salt. Adaptation to this environment requires development of coping mechanisms providing tolerance to desiccating conditions due to the high salinity, extreme temperatures, alkaline pH, unrelenting exposure to solar UV radiation, and prevailing winds. Several lines of evidence suggest that the same DNA repair mechanisms that are usually associated with UV light or chemically induced DNA damage are also important in protecting microbes from desiccation. Because little is known about the DNA repair capacity of microorganisms from hypersaline terrestrial environments, we explored the DNA repair capacity of microbial isolates from the GSP. We used survival following exposure to UV light as a convenient tool to assess DNA repair capacity. Two species of Halomonas (H. salina and H. venusta) that have been isolated repeatedly from the GSP were chosen for analysis. The survival profiles were compared to those of Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Halomonas spp. from aquatic saline environments. Survival of GSP organisms exceeded that of the freshwater organism P. aeruginosa, although they survived no better than E. coli. The GSP isolates were much more resistance to killing by UV than were the aquatic species of Halomonas reported in the literature [Martin et al. (2000) Can J Microbiol 46:180-187]. Unlike E. coli, the GSP isolates did not appear to have an inducible, error-prone repair mechanism. However, they demonstrated high levels of spontaneous mutation.

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