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    STUDIA BIOLOGIA - Issue no. 1 / 2019  

  Abstract:  Lake Magic, located on the Yilgarn Craton in southern Western Australia, is a round lake with ~1 km diameter and harbours a unique environment on Earth. It exhibits co-stressors of pH 1.6-4.5 and salinity of 32% TDS. The lake is known to have the highest concentration of dissolved Al, Fe and Si in the world. Lake Magic undergoes stages of flooding, evapo-concentration and desiccations, and hence, is a home to a diverse population of halophilic and acidophilic microorganisms. Understanding the diversity dynamics and survival strategies of extremophiles enables us to comprehend how they interact to drive key biogeochemical cycles, and has broad applications in biomining, synthetic ecology and biotechnology. Here, we used a temporal approach to understand prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity in the lake sediment and salt mat using high throughput amplicon sequencing. To further understand the survival strategies of microbes, their microbial interactions were studied using a high throughput co-culture method. We established a bottom up approach by using bacterial species isolated from Lake Magic in a well-controlled synthetic community fed with labelled isotope substrates and analysed them through NanoSIMS. We studied the species metabolic interactions in all mono and pairwise cultures. The results indicated that the microbial diversity and composition are significantly affected by lake conditions, and species become more specialised in buffering the increased acidity in the lake as a strategy to survive. NanoSIMS analysis gave an in-depth view of carbon and nitrogen exchange between isolates, shedding light on the potential tactics to survive in this extreme environment.

Keywords: acid saline lake, amplicon sequencing, co-culture, microbial ecology, NanoSIMS.
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