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Title: Ancient saltern metagenomics: tracking changes in microbes and their viruses from the underground to the surface
Authors: Ramos-Barbero, Ma Dolores
Viver, Tomeu
Zabaleta, Ane
Senel, Ece
Gomariz, Maria
Antiguedad, Inaki
Anton, Josefa
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Wiley
Abstract: Microbial communities in hypersaline underground waters derive from ancient organisms trapped within the evaporitic salt crystals and are part of the poorly known subterranean biosphere. Here, we characterized the viral and prokaryotic assemblages present in the hypersaline springs that dissolve Triassic-Keuper evaporite rocks and feed the Anana Salt Valley (Araba/Alava, Basque Country, Spain). Four underground water samples (around 23% total salinity) with different levels of exposure to the open air were analysed by means of microscopy and metagenomics. Cells and viruses in the spring water had lower concentrations than what are normally found in hypersaline environments and seemed to be mostly inactive. Upon exposure to the open air, there was an increase in activity of both cells and viruses as well as a selection of phylotypes. The underground water was inhabited by a rich community harbouring a diverse set of genes coding for retinal binding proteins. A total of 35 viral contigs from 15 to 104 kb, representing partial or total viral genomes, were assembled and their evolutionary changes through the spring system were followed by SNP analysis and metagenomic island tracking. Overall, both the viral and the prokaryotic assemblages changed quickly upon exposure to the open air conditions.
ISSN: 1462-2912
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