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    STUDIA BIOLOGIA - Issue no. 1 / 2019  

  Abstract:  Hypersaline environments approaching halite precipitation are rich in microbial biomass but poor in diversity, dominated by a range of extremely halophilic Archaea (haloarchaea) and to a lesser extent by Bacteria such as Salinibacter ruber. The phototrophic Eukaryote, Dunaliella salina, is a major primary producer in brines prior to halite precipitation. These extremely halophilic microbes, especially the haloarchaea, become trapped inside the brine inclusions of halite as it precipitates. The entombed microbes are thus protected from desiccation, UV light and the increasing salinity and chaotropicity of the remaining brine. By temporarily surviving in this microenvironment they can grow in larger bodies of brine formed when the halite dissolves. Analysis of the haloarchaea inside halite crystals from ~30 coastal solar salterns across the globe revealed three abundant species present in all crystals: Halolamina sediminis, Halobacterium noricense and Halorubrum orientale (Clark et al., 2017). Laboratory experiments showed that Halobacterium species survive better in halite than the other microbes tested, and that co-entombment of mixed species enhances survival (Gramain et al., 2011). The idea that survival inside halite may extend over geological time will be discussed.

Keywords: haloarchaea, longevity.
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