Author(s): Prnnen K, Karkman A, Virta M, EronenRasimus E, Kaartokallio H
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Abstract Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are macromolecules produced by bacteria as means for storing carbon and energy in intracellular granules. PHAs have physical properties similar to those of plastics and have become of interest to industry as materials for environmentally friendly bioplastic production. There is an ongoing search for new PHA-producing bacterial strains and PHA-synthesizing enzymes tolerating extreme conditions to find ways of producing PHAs at cold temperatures and high solute concentrations. Moreover, the study of PHA producers in the sea-ice biome can aid in understanding the microbial ecology of carbon cycling in ice-associated ecosystems. In this study, PHA producers and PHA synthase genes were examined under the extreme environmental conditions of sea ice and cold seawater to find evidence of PHA production in an environment requiring adaptation to high salinity and cold temperatures. Sea ice and cold estuarine water samples were collected from the northern Baltic Sea and evidence of PHA production was gathered, using microscopy with Nile Blue A staining of PHA-granules and PCR assays detecting PHA-synthesis genes. The PHA granules and PHA synthases were found at all sampling locations, in both sea ice and water, and throughout the sampling period spanning over 10 years. Our study shows, for the first time, that PHA synthesis occurs in Baltic Sea cold-adapted bacteria in their natural environment, which makes the Baltic Sea and its cold environments an interesting choice in the quest for PHA-synthesizing bacteria and synthesis genes.
This article was published in Extremophiles
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics