Unexpected host dependency of Antarctic Nanohaloarchaeota

Research Highlight

Salt-loving symbionts of Antarctica

© John Bennet/FOAP/Getty

© John Bennet/FOAP/Getty

Some of Antarctica’s apparently independent saltwater microbes rely on others to grow.

Nanohaloarchaea are microscopic relatives of the salt-loving, single-celled haloarchaea. They are thought to be independent organisms despite their reduced genome size.

Now, a team that included researchers from the University of New South Wales has extracted two species of nanohaloarchaea from two salty Antarctic lakes and cultivated them in the lab alongside other microbes native to these icy waters.

The team found that the nanohaloarchaea needs cell−cell contact with Halorubrum lacusprofundi, a haloarchaea found in one of Antarctica’s coldest lakes, to grow. They probed their protein interactions to discover how the nanohaloarchaea nabbed nutrients from its host.

An ability to grow and study nanohaloarchaea in the lab could improve understanding of microbial relationships that may be important to environmental processes in Antarctica.

Supported content

  1. PNAS 116, 14661–14670 (2019). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1905179116
Institutions Share
University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia 0.77
Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia 0.17
Joint Genome Institute (JGI), United States of America (USA) 0.07