Some bacteria can be preserved over time in deep sediments where they persist either in dormant or slow-growing vegetative stages. Here, we hypothesized that such cells can be revived when exposed to environmental conditions similar to those before they were buried in the sediments. To test this hypothesis, we collected bacteria from sediment samples of different ages (140-8500 calibrated years before present, cal BP) from three lakes that differed in the timing of their physical isolation from the Baltic Sea following postglacial uplift. After these bacterial communities were grown in sterile water from the Baltic Sea, we determined the proportion of 16S rRNA sequence reads associated with marine habitats by extracting the environment descriptive terms of homologous sequences retrieved from public databases. We found that the proportion of reads associated with marine descriptive term was significantly higher in cultures inoculated with sediment layers formed under Baltic conditions and where salinities were expected to be similar to current levels. Moreover, a similar pattern was found in the original sediment layers. Our study, therefore, suggests that remnants of marine bacterial communities can be preserved in sediments over thousands of years and can be revived from deep sediments in lakes of marine origin.
© 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.