Diversity and adaptation properties of actinobacteria associated with Tunisian stone ruins

Front Microbiol. 2022 Dec 13;13:997832. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.997832. eCollection 2022.


Stone surface is a unique biological niche that may host a rich microbial diversity. The exploration of the biodiversity of the stone microbiome represents a major challenge and an opportunity to characterize new strains equipped with valuable biological activity. Here, we explored the diversity and adaptation strategies of total bacterial communities associated with Roman stone ruins in Tunisia by considering the effects of geo-climatic regions and stone geochemistry. Environmental 16S rRNA gene amplicon was performed on DNA extracted from stones samples collected in three different sampling sites in Tunisia, along an almost 400km aridity transect, encompassing Mediterranean, semiarid and arid climates. The library was sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq sequencing platform. The cultivable Actinobacteria were isolated from stones samples using the dilution plate technique. A total of 71 strains were isolated and identified based on 16S rRNA gene sequences. Cultivable actinobacteria were further investigated to evaluate the adaptative strategies adopted to survive in/on stones. Amplicon sequencing showed that stone ruins bacterial communities were consistently dominated by Cyanobacteria, followed by Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria along the aridity gradient. However, the relative abundance of the bacterial community components changed according to the geo-climatic origin. Stone geochemistry, particularly the availability of magnesium, chromium, and copper, also influenced the bacterial communities' diversity. Cultivable actinobacteria were further investigated to evaluate the adaptative strategies adopted to survive in/on stones. All the cultivated bacteria belonged to the Actinobacteria class, and the most abundant genera were Streptomyces, Kocuria and Arthrobacter. They were able to tolerate high temperatures (up to 45°C) and salt accumulation, and they produced enzymes involved in nutrients' solubilization, such as phosphatase, amylase, protease, chitinase, and cellulase. Actinobacteria members also had an important role in the co-occurrence interactions among bacteria, favoring the community interactome and stabilization. Our findings provide new insights into actinobacteria's diversity, adaptation, and role within the microbiome associated with stone ruins.

Keywords: Actinobacteria; antimicrobial activities; mineral solubilization; oligotrophic environment; stone niches.