Distribution of Denitrification among Haloarchaea: A Comprehensive Study

Microorganisms. 2021 Aug 4;9(8):1669. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9081669.


Microorganisms from the Halobacteria class, also known as haloarchaea, inhabit a wide range of ecosystems of which the main characteristic is the presence of high salt concentration. These environments together with their microbial communities are not well characterized, but some of the common features that they share are high sun radiation and low availability of oxygen. To overcome these stressful conditions, and more particularly to deal with oxygen limitation, some microorganisms drive alternative respiratory pathways such as denitrification. In this paper, denitrification in haloarchaea has been studied from a phylogenetic point of view. It has been demonstrated that the presence of denitrification enzymes is a quite common characteristic in Halobacteria class, being nitrite reductase and nitric oxide reductase the enzymes with higher co-occurrence, maybe due to their possible role not only in denitrification, but also in detoxification. Moreover, copper-nitrite reductase (NirK) is the only class of respiratory nitrite reductase detected in these microorganisms up to date. The distribution of this alternative respiratory pathway and their enzymes among the families of haloarchaea has also been discussed and related with the environment in which they constitute the major populations. Complete denitrification phenotype is more common in some families like Haloarculaceae and Haloferacaceae, whilst less common in families such as Natrialbaceae and Halorubraceae.

Keywords: Halobacteriaceae; Haloferacaceae; Halorubraceae; Natrialbaceae; denitrification; haloarchaea; nitric oxide reductase; nitrous oxide reductase; respiratory nitrate reductase; respiratory nitrite reductase.