U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Microbes in Antarctic Lake Divvy Up the Waters
Published: February 20, 2014
Posted: August 11, 2014

Four microbes, recently sequenced at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, dominate in Antarctica’s Deep Lake, making up 70% of the microbial community. They belong to a group called haloarchaea, which require high salt concentrations to grow and are naturally adapted to extreme conditions that would prove lethally cold to other organisms. In a recent study, researchers found that three of the four haloarchaea are adapted to niche environments within the lake. The most abundant of the four, strain tADL (44% of the lake community), has genes for light harvesting and gas vesicles that help it float near the light-rich surface. The second most abundant haloarchaea, strain DL31 (18% of the community), appears to be adept at metabolizing proteins and peptides. H. lacusprofundi (10% of the lake community)appears to be a more versatile generalist that can feed on a variety of nutrients. The least abundant, strain DL1 (0.3% of the lake community), shows a taste for amino acids and is the only one without genes for using glycerol as a nutrient. The next step is to use metaproteomics (study of proteins in an environmental sample) to investigate whether protein abundance in Deep Lake supports the research team’s hypothesis about niche specialization. Understanding how haloarchaea thrive in extreme polar niches could be used to improve the role of microbes in contaminated site cleanup in permanently or seasonally cold regions. Also, the genes that allow them to adapt to select conditions can be re-tooled for use in industrial or environmental remediation settings.

Reference: Williams, T. J., et al. 2014. “Microbial Ecology of an Antarctic Hypersaline Lake: Genomic Assessment of Ecophysiology Among Dominant Haloarchaea,” The ISME Journal 8, 1645-58. DOI:10.1038/ismej.2014.18. (Reference link)

Contact: Dan Drell, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4742
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)