Martín Cuadrado, A. B., Senel, E., Martínez García, M., Cifuentes, A., Santos, F., Almansa, C., Moreno Paz, M., Blanco, Y., García Villadangos, M., Del Cura, M. A. G., Sánz Montero, M. E., Rodríguez Aranda, J. P., Rossello Mora, R., Anton, J., Parro, V. 2019. Prokaryotic and viral community of the sulfate-rich crust from Penahueca ephemeral lake, an astrobiology analogue. Environmental Microbiology 21, 10, 3577-3600 DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14680
Penahueca is an athalassohaline hypersaline inland ephemeral lake originated under semiarid conditions in the central Iberian Peninsula (Spain). Its chemical composition makes it extreme for microbial life as well as a terrestrial analogue of other planetary environments. To investigate the persistence of microbial life associated with sulfate-rich crusts, we applied cultivation-independent methods (optical and electron microscopy, 16S rRNA gene profiling and metagenomics) to describe the prokaryotic community and its associated viruses. The diversity for Bacteria was very low and was vastly dominated by endospore formers related to Pontibacillus marinus of the Firmicutes phylum. The archaeal assemblage was more diverse and included taxa related to those normally found in hypersaline environments. Several `metagenome assembled genomes’ were recovered, corresponding to new species of Pontibacillus, several species from the Halobacteria and one new member of the Nanohaloarchaeota. The viral assemblage, although composed of the morphotypes typical of high salt systems, showed little similarity to previously isolated/reconstructed halophages. Several putative prophages of Pontibacillus and haloarchaeal hosts were identified. Remarkably, the Penahueca sulfate-rich metagenome contained CRISPR-associated proteins and repetitions which were over 10-fold higher than in most hypersaline systems analysed so far.