G. Merlino, A. Barozzi, G. Michoud, D.K. Ngugi, D. Daffonchio
FEMS Microbiology Ecology, fiy085, (2018)
Deep hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs) are unique water bodies occurring within fractures at the bottom of the sea, where the dissolution of anciently buried evaporites created dense anoxic brines that are separated by a chemocline/pycnocline from the overlying oxygenated deep-seawater column. DHABs have been described in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Red Sea. They are characterized by prolonged historical separation of the brines from the upper water column due to lack of mixing and by extreme conditions of salinity, anoxia, and relatively high hydrostatic pressure and temperatures. Due to these combined selection factors, unique microbial assemblages thrive in these polyextreme ecosystems. The topological localization of the different taxa in the brine-seawater transition zone coupled with the metabolic interactions and niche adaptations determine the metabolic functioning and biogeochemistry of DHABs. In particular, inherent metabolic strategies accompanied by genetic adaptations have provided insights on how prokaryotic communities can adapt to salt-saturated condition. Here, we review the current knowledge on the diversity, genomics, metabolisms and ecology of prokaryotes in DHABs.