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Actinobacterial Rare Biospheres and Dark Matter Revealed in Habitats of the Chilean Atacama Desert

Lookup NU author(s): Hamidah Idris, Emeritus Professor Michael Goodfellow, Dr Roy Sanderson, Professor Alan Bull

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

© 2017 The Author(s). The Atacama Desert is the most extreme non-polar biome on Earth, the core region of which is considered to represent the dry limit for life and to be an analogue for Martian soils. This study focused on actinobacteria because they are keystone species in terrestrial ecosystems and are acknowledged as an unrivalled source of bioactive compounds. Metagenomic analyses of hyper-arid and extreme hyper-arid soils in this desert revealed a remarkable degree of actinobacterial 'dark matter', evidenced by a detected increase of 34% in families against those that are validly published. Rank-abundance analyses indicated that these soils were high-diversity habitats and that the great majority of designated 'rare' genera (up to 60% of all phylotypes) were always rare. These studies have enabled a core actinobacterial microbiome common to both habitats to be defined. The great majority of detected taxa have not been recovered by culture dependent methods, neither, with very few exceptions, has their functional ecology been explored. A microbial seed bank of this magnitude has significance not just for Atacama soil ecosystem resilience but represents an enormous untapped resource for biotechnology discovery programmes in an era where resistance to existing antibiotics is rapidly becoming a major threat to global health.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Idris H, Goodfellow M, Sanderson R, Asenjo JA, Bull AT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2017

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 21/08/2017

Acceptance date: 04/07/2017

Date deposited: 18/10/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-08937-4

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-08937-4


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