Organic osmolytes in aerobic bacteria from Mono Lake, an alkaline, moderately hypersaline environment

Rose A. Ciulla, Mara R. Diaz, Barrie F. Taylor, Mary F. Roberts

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37 Scopus citations


The identity and concentrations of intracellular organic solutes were determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for two strains of aerobic, gram-negative bacteria isolated from Mono Lake, Calif., an alkaline, moderately hypersaline lake. Ectoine (1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4- pyrimidinecarboxylic acid) was the major endogenous solute in both organisms. Concentrations of ectoine varied with external NaCl levels in strain ML-D but not in strain ML-G, where the level was high but invariant from 1.5 to 3.0 M NaCl. Hydroxyectoine also occurred in strain ML-D, especially at elevated NaCl concentrations (2.5 and 3.0 M), but at levels lower than those of ectoine. Exogenous organic solutes that might occur in Mono Lake were examined for their effects on the de novo synthesis of ectoine. Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) (0.1 or 1 mM) did not significantly lower ectoine levels in either isolate, and only strain ML-G showed any capacity for DMSP accumulation. With nitrogen limitation, however, DMSP (0.1 mM) substituted for ectoine in strain ML-G and became the main organic solute. Glycine betaine (GB) was more effective than DMSP in affecting ectoine levels, principally in strain ML-D. Strain ML-D accumulated GB to 50 or 67% of its organic solute pool at 2.5 M NaCl, at an external level of 0.1 or 1 mM GB, respectively. Strain ML-D also accumulated arsenobetaine. The methylated zwitterionic compounds, probably metabolic products of phytoplankton (DMSP and GB) or brine shrimps (arsenobetaine) in Mono Lake, may function as osmolytes for indigenous bacteria when present at high concentrations or under conditions of nitrogen limitation or salt stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-226
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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