Deep-sea hypersaline anoxic lakes (DHALs) of the Eastern Mediterranean represent some of the most hostile environments on our planet. We investigated microbial life in the recently discovered Lake Medee, the largest DHAL found to-date. Medee has two unique features: a complex geobiochemical stratification and an absence of chemolithoautotrophic Epsilonproteobacteria, which usually play the primary role in dark bicarbonate assimilation in DHALs interfaces. Presumably because of these features, Medee is less productive and exhibits reduced diversity of autochthonous prokaryotes in its interior. Indeed, the brine community almost exclusively consists of the members of euryarchaeal MSBL1 and bacterial KB1 candidate divisions. Our experiments utilizing cultivation and [14C]-assimilation, showed that these organisms at least partially rely on reductive cleavage of osmoprotectant glycine betaine and are engaged in trophic cooperation. These findings provide novel insights into how prokaryotic communities can adapt to salt-saturated conditions and sustain active metabolism at the thermodynamic edge of life.
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