Molecular and physiological adaptations to low temperature in thioalkalivibrio strains isolated from soda lakes with different temperature regimes

Anne Catherine Ahn, Evelien Jongepier, J. Merijn Schuurmans, W. Irene, Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, Erwin A. Galinski, Pawel Roman, Dimitry Sorokin, Gerard Muyzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The genus Thioalkalivibrio comprises sulfur-oxidizing bacteria thriving in soda lakes at high pH and salinity. Depending on the geographical location and the season, these lakes can strongly vary in temperature. To obtain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular and physiological adaptations to low temperature, we compared the responses of two Thioalkalivibrio strains to low (10 C) and high (30 C) temperatures. For this, the strains were grown under controlled conditions in chemostats and analyzed for their gene expression (RNA sequencing [RNA-Seq]), membrane lipid composition, and glycine betaine content. The strain Thioalkalivibrio versutus AL2T originated from a soda lake in southeast Siberia that is exposed to strong seasonal temperature differences, including freezing winters, whereas Thioalkalivibrio nitratis ALJ2 was isolated from an East African Rift Valley soda lake with a constant warm temperature the year round. The strain AL2T grew faster than ALJ2 at 10 C, likely due to its 3-fold-higher concentration of the osmolyte glycine betaine. Moreover, significant changes in the membrane lipid composition were observed for both strains, leading to an increase in their unsaturated fatty acid content via the Fab pathway to avoid membrane stiffness. Genes for the transcriptional and translational machinery, as well as for counteracting cold-induced hampering of nucleotides and proteins, were upregulated. Oxidative stress was reduced by induction of vitamin B12 biosynthesis genes, and growth at 10 C provoked downregulation of genes involved in the second half of the sulfur oxidation pathway. Genes for intracellular signal transduction were differentially expressed, and interestingly, AL2T upregulated flagellin expression, whereas ALJ2 downregulated it.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01202-20
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Glycine betaine
  • Membrane lipid composition
  • RNA-Seq
  • Soda lake
  • System biology
  • Thioalkalivibrio


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