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Extremophiles. 2008 Jul;12(4):595-604. doi: 10.1007/s00792-008-0162-x. Epub 2008 Apr 22.

Prokaryotic diversity in one of the largest hypersaline coastal lagoons in the world.

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Departamento de Microbiologia, Fiocruz, Instituto Nacional de Controle da Qualidade em Sa├║de-INCQS/FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, 21045-900, Brazil.


Araruama Lagoon is an environment characterized by high salt concentrations. The low raining and high evaporation rates in this region favored the development of many salty ponds around the lagoon. In order to reveal the microbial composition of this system, we performed a 16S rRNA gene survey. Among archaea, most clones were related to uncultured environmental Euryarchaeota. In lagoon water, we found some clones related to Methanomicrobia and Methanothermococcus groups, while in the saline pond water members related to the genus Haloarcula were detected. Bacterial community was dominated by clones related to Gamma-proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Synechococcus in lagoon water, while Salinibacter ruber relatives dominated in saline pond. We also detected the presence of Alpha-proteobacteria, Pseudomonas-like bacteria and Verrucomicrobia. Only representatives of the genus Ralstonia were cosmopolitan, being observed in both systems. The detection of a substantial number of clones related to uncultured archaea and bacteria suggest that the hypersaline waters of Araruama harbor a pool of novel prokaryotic phylotypes, distinct from those observed in other similar systems. We also observed clones related to halophilic genera of cyanobacteria that are specific for each habitat studied. Additionally, two bacterioplankton molecular markers with ecological relevance were analyzed, one is linked to nitrogen fixation (nifH) and the other is linked to carbon fixation by bacterial photosynthesis, the protochlorophyllide genes, revealing a specific genetic distribution in this ecosystem. This is the first study of the biogeography and community structure of microbial assemblages in Brazilian tropical hypersaline environments. This work is directed towards a better understanding of the free-living prokaryotic diversity adapted to life in hypersaline waters.

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