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Relationships between sucretolerance and salinotolerance in bacteria from hypersaline environments and their implications for the exploration of Mars and the icy worlds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 June 2016

Casper Fredsgaard
Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA
Donald B. Moore
Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA
Amer F. Al Soudi
Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA
James D. Crisler
Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA
Fei Chen
Planetary Protection Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Pasadena, CA, USA
Benton C. Clark
Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO, USA
Mark A. Schneegurt*
Department of Biological Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA


The most extremely osmotolerant microbial isolates are fungi from high-sugar environments that tolerate the lowest water activity (0.61) for growth yet reported. Studies of osmotolerant bacteria have focused on halotolerance rather than sucretolerance (ability to grow in high sugar concentrations). A collection of salinotolerant (≥10% NaCl or ≥50% MgSO4) bacterial isolates from the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma and Hot Lake in Washington were screened for sucretolerance in medium supplemented with ≥50% fructose, glucose or sucrose. Tolerances significantly differed between solutes, even though water activities for saline media (0.92 and 0.85 for 10 and 20% NaCl Salt Plains media, respectively) were comparable or lower than water activities for high-sugar media (0.93 and 0.90 for 50 and 70% sucrose artificial nectar media, respectively). These specific solute effects were differentially expressed among individual isolates. Extrapolating the results of earlier food science studies with yeasts at high sugar concentrations to bacteria in salty environments with low water activity should be done with caution. Furthermore, the discussion of habitable Special Regions on Mars and the icy worlds should reflect an understanding of specific solute effects.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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