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Microbial diversity in Calamita ferromagnetic sand

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental microbiology reports
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Abstract

Calamita is a black ferromagnetic sand from a marine iron ore on Elba Island (Italy). Its total iron content is approximately 80% and a major fraction (63% w/w) has magnetic properties. Desiccation, ultraviolet irradiation and the high temperature induced by the thermal conductivity of iron make Calamita sand an extreme biotope. We report, for the first time, the geomicrobiological characterization of Calamita sand, which showed a low bacterial biodiversity as determined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis. We retrieved sequences closely affiliated with uncultured bacteria inhabiting the harshest deserts on Earth. Radiation-and desiccation-tolerant bacteria from the phyla Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Deinococcus-Thermus dominated the community. Heavy metal-resistant organisms, for example Variovorax sp. were also abundant. Sequences of organisms with an inferred metabolism based on lithotrophic iron oxidation were detected. The sands also contained thermophilic bacilli, which were cultivated at 60 degrees C. These data provided important insights also into the biogeographical distribution of these organisms in the Mediterranean region. In summary, this study on Calamita helps to expand our knowledge of the biodiversity in extreme, iron-rich, environments.

    Research areas

  • SP-NOV, EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS, BACTERIAL COMMUNITY, GLOBAL TRANSPORT, MICROORGANISMS, DESERT, LIFE, RADIATION, IRON, TATAOUINE

ID: 1500742