Hypersaline environments are dominated by archaea and bacteria and are almost entirely devoid of eukaryotic organisms. In addition, hypersaline environments contain considerable numbers of viruses. Currently, there is only a limited amount of information about these haloviruses. The ones described in detail mostly resemble head-tail bacteriophages, whereas observations based on direct microscopy of the hypersaline environmental samples highlight the abundance of non-tailed virus-like particles. Here we studied nine spatially distant hypersaline environments for the isolation of new halophilic archaea (61 isolates), halophilic bacteria (24 isolates) and their viruses (49 isolates) using a culture-dependent approach. The obtained virus isolates approximately double the number of currently described archaeal viruses. The new isolates could be divided into three tailed and two non-tailed virus morphotypes, suggesting that both types of viruses are widely distributed and characteristic for haloarchaeal viruses. We determined the sensitivity of the hosts against all isolated viruses. It appeared that the host ranges of numerous viruses extend to hosts in distant locations, supporting the idea that there is a global exchange of microbes and their viruses. It suggests that hypersaline environments worldwide function like a single habitat.
© 2011 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.