Biodiversity, Adaptation Strategies, and Opportunities in Extreme Marine Environments

A special issue of Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (ISSN 2077-1312). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Environmental Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2023) | Viewed by 24179

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Guest Editor
Department of Ecosustainable Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Via Ammiraglio Ferdinando Acton 55, 80133 Naples, Italy
Interests: marine natural products; biotechnological applications; marine microorganisms; fishing waste exploitation; bioactivity screening
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Extreme marine environments represent unique ecosystems on earth, characterized by extremely variable and hostile physicochemical parameters that are stressful for most organisms (e.g., very low/high temperatures, extreme photoperiods, and variations in salinity, pH, and pressure). The efforts of the research community made to date have gradually discovered the presence of a huge biological and genetic diversity in extreme environments, regarding both macro- and microorganisms, which have been less studied compared to organisms living in more accessible sites. In order to cope in such challenging habitats, extremophile marine organisms have evolved unique protective mechanisms, including both molecular/structural adaptations and metabolic pathways producing an array of compounds—derived from primary and secondary metabolism—which can have multiple roles (e.g., antipredator) and exert several bioactivities with possible biotechnological applications.

The aim of this Special Issue is to collect new and stimulating high-quality papers, including reviews and articles, directly related to various aspects of marine extreme environments, their biodiversity, and perspectives and challenges for novel products, such as marine bioactive compounds, with possible industrial applications.

Dr. Chiara Lauritano
Dr. Daniela Coppola
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Extreme environments
  • marine biodiversity
  • natural products
  • biotechnological applications
  • adaptation mechanisms

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 183 KiB  
Editorial
Biodiversity, Adaptation Strategies, and Opportunities in Extreme Marine Environments
by Chiara Lauritano and Daniela Coppola
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(12), 2367; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11122367 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 660
Abstract
Extreme marine environments are peculiar ecosystems characterized by extremely variable and hostile physicochemical parameters [...] Full article

Research

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24 pages, 3991 KiB  
Article
Biodiversity of UV-Resistant Bacteria in Antarctic Aquatic Environments
by Daniela Coppola, Chiara Lauritano, Gianluca Zazo, Genoveffa Nuzzo, Angelo Fontana, Adrianna Ianora, Maria Costantini, Cinzia Verde and Daniela Giordano
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(5), 968; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11050968 - 01 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2049
Abstract
Antarctica is an untapped reservoir of bacterial communities, which are able to adapt to a huge variety of strategies to cope with extreme conditions and, therefore, are capable of producing potentially valuable compounds for biotechnological applications. In this study, 31 UV-resistant bacteria collected [...] Read more.
Antarctica is an untapped reservoir of bacterial communities, which are able to adapt to a huge variety of strategies to cope with extreme conditions and, therefore, are capable of producing potentially valuable compounds for biotechnological applications. In this study, 31 UV-resistant bacteria collected from different Antarctic aquatic environments (surface sea waters/ice and shallow lake sediments) were isolated by UV-C assay and subsequently identified. A phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequence similarities showed that the isolates were affiliated with Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla, and they were clustered into 15 bacterial genera, 5 of which were Gram negative (Brevundimonas, Qipengyuania, Sphingorhabdus, Sphingobium, and Psychrobacter) and 10 of which were Gram positive (Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Mesobacillus, Kocuria, Gordonia, Rhodococcus, Micrococcus, Arthrobacter, Agrococcus, and Salinibacterium). Strains belonging to Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria phyla were the most abundant species in all environments. The genus Psychrobacter was dominant in all collection sites, whereas bacteria belonging to Actinobacteria appeared to be the most diverse and rich in terms of species among the investigated sites. Many of these isolates (20 of 31 isolates) were pigmented. Bacterial pigments, which are generally carotenoid-type compounds, are often involved in the protection of cells against the negative effects of UV radiation. For this reason, these pigments may help bacteria to successfully tolerate Antarctic extreme conditions of low temperature and harmful levels of UV radiation. Full article
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13 pages, 1653 KiB  
Article
Ecomorphological Differentiation of Feeding Structures within the Antarctic Fish Species Flock Trematominae (Notothenioidei) from Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea)
by Erica Carlig, Davide Di Blasi, Eva Pisano, Marino Vacchi, Gianfranco Santovito and Laura Ghigliotti
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2022, 10(12), 1876; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10121876 - 03 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1019
Abstract
The Antarctic endemic fish genus Trematomus (Trematominae, Notothenioidei) includes 15 species very diverse in morphology, lifestyle and feeding ecology. Co-occurring on the continental shelf, they occupy different habitats and a wide range of ecological niches as the result of adaptive radiation during their [...] Read more.
The Antarctic endemic fish genus Trematomus (Trematominae, Notothenioidei) includes 15 species very diverse in morphology, lifestyle and feeding ecology. Co-occurring on the continental shelf, they occupy different habitats and a wide range of ecological niches as the result of adaptive radiation during their evolutionary history. Ecomorphological differentiation is a key feature of adaptive radiations, with a general trend for specialization following divergence. Here, we investigated the trophic adaptive morphology and ecology of six Trematomus species from Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea) through feeding apparatus metrics and geometric morphometrics. The suction index (SI), the mechanical advantage in jaw closing (MA), the relative surface of the adductor mandibulae muscle and nine morphological traits related to feeding structures were analysed. Head shape clearly differentiates the benthic (T. bernacchii, T. hansoni and T. pennellii) from the pelagic (T. eulepidotus and T. borchgrevinki) species. The position of the eyes and the orientation of the mouth also contribute to specific morphological differences and specialization. Interestingly, T. newnesi stands at an intermediate position and the mouth is clearly oriented upwards compared to the other congeneric species. Full article
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13 pages, 1246 KiB  
Article
Absence of Nitrergic Modulation of Starling Response in Haemoglobin-Less Antarctic Fish Chionodraco hamatus
by Daniela Amelio, Filippo Garofalo, Elvira Brunelli, Gianfranco Santovito and Daniela Pellegrino
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2022, 10(11), 1705; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10111705 - 09 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 845
Abstract
The Frank-Starling response is an intrinsic heart property that is particularly evident in the fish heart because piscine cardiomyocytes are extremely sensitive to stretch. Several mechanisms and compounds influence the Frank-Starling response, including the free radical nitric oxide produced by nitric oxide synthases [...] Read more.
The Frank-Starling response is an intrinsic heart property that is particularly evident in the fish heart because piscine cardiomyocytes are extremely sensitive to stretch. Several mechanisms and compounds influence the Frank-Starling response, including the free radical nitric oxide produced by nitric oxide synthases in the vascular endothelium and cardiomyocytes of all vertebrates. Besides its role in scavenging nitric oxide, hemoglobin may act as a source and transporter. In this context, the hemoglobin-less Antarctic teleost Chionodraco hamatus (icefish) represents a unique opportunity to investigate the involvement of nitric oxide in the Frank-Starling response. Using an isolated perfused heart preparation, weverified a basal nitrergic tone that is not implicated in the Frank-Starling response. In addition, by comparing nitric oxide synthases expression and activation in C. hamatus and the red-blooded Antarctic teleost Trematomus bernacchii, we found the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (the primary generator of nitric oxide during shear stress) to be less expressed and activated in the former. Full article
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21 pages, 4858 KiB  
Article
Molecular, Morphological and Chemical Diversity of Two New Species of Antarctic Diatoms, Craspedostauros ineffabilis sp. nov. and Craspedostauros zucchellii sp. nov.
by Riccardo Trentin, Emanuela Moschin, André Duarte Lopes, Stefano Schiaparelli, Luísa Custódio and Isabella Moro
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2022, 10(11), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10111656 - 04 Nov 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1296
Abstract
The current study focuses on the biological diversity of two strains of Antarctic diatoms (strains IMA082A and IMA088A) collected and isolated from the Ross Sea (Antarctica) during the XXXIV Italian Antarctic Expedition. Both species presented the typical morphological characters of the genus Craspedostauros [...] Read more.
The current study focuses on the biological diversity of two strains of Antarctic diatoms (strains IMA082A and IMA088A) collected and isolated from the Ross Sea (Antarctica) during the XXXIV Italian Antarctic Expedition. Both species presented the typical morphological characters of the genus Craspedostauros: cribrate areolae, two “fore-and-aft” chloroplasts and a narrow “stauros”. This classification is congruent with the molecular phylogeny based on the concatenated 18S rDNA-rbcL-psbC alignment, which showed that these algae formed a monophyletic lineage including six taxonomically accepted species of Craspedostauros. Since the study of the evolution of this genus and of others raphe-bearing diatoms with a “stauros” is particularly challenging and their phylogeny is still debated, we tested alternative tree topologies to evaluate the relationships among these taxa. The metabolic fingerprinting approach was implemented for the assessment of the chemical diversity of IMA082A and IMA088A. In conclusion, combining (1) traditional morphological features used in diatoms identification, (2) phylogenetic analyses of the small subunit rDNA (18S rDNA), rbcL and psbC genes, and (3) metabolic fingerprint, we described the strains IMA082A and IMA088A as Craspedostauros ineffabilis sp. nov. and Craspedostauros zucchellii sp. nov. as new species, respectively. Full article
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17 pages, 2096 KiB  
Article
Molecular Evolution of Metallothioneins of Antarctic Fish: A Physiological Adaptation to Peculiar Seawater Chemical Characteristics
by Rigers Bakiu, Francesco Boldrin, Sara Pacchini, Sophia Schumann, Elisabetta Piva, Anna Maria Tolomeo, Diana Ferro, Alessandro Grapputo, Gianfranco Santovito and Paola Irato
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2022, 10(11), 1592; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10111592 - 28 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
Metallothioneins (MTs) are low-molecular weight sulfur-rich proteins, widely distributed in nature. They play a homeostatic role in the control and detoxification of metal ions. Previous studies indicated that MTs also have the capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species. This study aimed to investigate [...] Read more.
Metallothioneins (MTs) are low-molecular weight sulfur-rich proteins, widely distributed in nature. They play a homeostatic role in the control and detoxification of metal ions. Previous studies indicated that MTs also have the capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species. This study aimed to investigate the evolution of the protein in the notothenioid fish, evolved under the selective pressure of relatively high oxygen partial pressures, characteristics of cold Antarctic seawaters, and relatively high concentrations of metal ions, Cd and Cu in particular. The cDNA sequences of MT isoforms were characterized in members of the Nototheniidae, Bathydraconidae, Artedidraconidae, and Channichthyidae families. The phylogenetic relationships of MTs from these families and other teleosts were inferred by using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian methods. The analysis of coding region and untranslated (UTR) sequences indicated the presence of two MT clades, each containing one of the two MT isoforms, MT-1 and MT-2. Our results indicated, for the first time for these proteins, that the evolution of MT genes has been characterized by strong purifying selection, whereas it did not observe any evidence of positive selection. In addition, phylogenetic analysis of the UTRs suggested that functional changes, in particular related to the MT-1 gene expression, had accompanied the duplication event. Full article
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13 pages, 1544 KiB  
Article
Isolation and Identification of Luminescent Bacteria in Deep Sea Marine Organisms from Sicilian Waters (Mediterranean Sea)
by Rosario Calogero, Carmen Rizzo, Erika Arcadi, Maria Giulia Stipa, Pierpaolo Consoli, Teresa Romeo and Pietro Battaglia
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2022, 10(8), 1113; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10081113 - 13 Aug 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3181
Abstract
Luminescent bacteria are a fascinating component of marine microbial communities, often related to the light emissions in deep sea marine organisms. They are mainly affiliated with specific phylogenetic groups, such as Photobacterium, Vibrio, and Photorhabdus, and are sometimes involved in [...] Read more.
Luminescent bacteria are a fascinating component of marine microbial communities, often related to the light emissions in deep sea marine organisms. They are mainly affiliated with specific phylogenetic groups, such as Photobacterium, Vibrio, and Photorhabdus, and are sometimes involved in symbiotic relationships. However, the luminescence of some marine organisms remains a poorly understood process, and it is not always certain whether their luminescence is attributable to associated luminescent bacteria. In this study, for the first time, luminescent bacteria were isolated from two deep sea organisms, namely, the cephalopod Neorossia caroli and the teleost Chlorophthalmus agassizi. The isolation was carried out on glycerol-supplemented medium, and the search for the luxAB gene was performed on all isolates as a complementary tool to the culture-dependent techniques to detect bioluminescence by molecular approach. The optimum of salinity, temperature, and pH was evaluated by physiological tests for all isolates. The production of extracellular polymeric substances was also preliminarily screened. A total of 24 luminescent isolates were obtained, with an abundance from C. agassizi specimens. All the isolates were taxonomically characterized and were related to different species of Photobacterium, with the exception of Vibrio sp. CLD11 that was from C. agassizi. The luxAB gene was detected in about the 90% of the analysed strains. Full article
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Review

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19 pages, 906 KiB  
Review
Biotechnological Applications of Products Released by Marine Microorganisms for Cold Adaptation Strategies: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Antioxidants, and Antifreeze Proteins
by Chiara Lauritano and Daniela Coppola
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(7), 1399; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11071399 - 11 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
Marine organisms have developed a series of defense and adaptation strategies, permitting them to live and survive in peculiar environments, ranging from temperate to tropical and polar regions, high to low salinity areas and different light conditions, as well as are constantly exposed [...] Read more.
Marine organisms have developed a series of defense and adaptation strategies, permitting them to live and survive in peculiar environments, ranging from temperate to tropical and polar regions, high to low salinity areas and different light conditions, as well as are constantly exposed to variations induced by climate change and human activities. These defense strategies include the production of molecules and enzymes which may have applications for humans as well. In this review, we summarized the studies on bacterial and microalgal polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and antifreeze proteins, which can find applications in different market sectors, such as feed and cosmetic fields. For all the aforementioned compounds, the compound annual growth rate is expected to increase by 5.35–36.3% in the near future, as the market interest toward these products is on the rise. Both industries and researchers are focused on developing mechanisms to reduce production time and costs, improve yields, and discover new proteins. Full article
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18 pages, 822 KiB  
Review
MicroRNA-Mediated Responses: Adaptations to Marine Extreme Environments
by Gabriele De Falco, Chiara Lauritano and Sabrina Carrella
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(2), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11020361 - 05 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3032
Abstract
Extreme environments are characterized by peculiar conditions, such as hypoxia/anoxia, freezing/heat temperatures, and desiccation. With climate change, more and more habitats are facing extreme conditions and living communities are finding ways to adapt in order to survive. In this study, we show several [...] Read more.
Extreme environments are characterized by peculiar conditions, such as hypoxia/anoxia, freezing/heat temperatures, and desiccation. With climate change, more and more habitats are facing extreme conditions and living communities are finding ways to adapt in order to survive. In this study, we show several species which have been shown to adapt to marine extreme conditions also via miRNA-mediated responses. miRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that mediate gene regulation via interactions with transcripts. Their action can directly or indirectly regulate pathways that can result in a response to a specific condition. Furthermore, the study of these miRNA-mediated responses could help in the biotechnological field for their application in the development of environmental biomarkers of stress conditions, or in the genetic engineering of algal species for the production of high-value compounds. Full article
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21 pages, 3963 KiB  
Review
Southern Ocean Iron Limitation of Primary Production between Past Knowledge and Future Projections
by Emma Bazzani, Chiara Lauritano and Maria Saggiomo
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(2), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11020272 - 25 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2416
Abstract
Primary production in the Southern Ocean highly depends on phytoplankton and has been reported to be limited by the availability of the micronutrient iron. The aim of this review is to summarize the past and current knowledge on iron limitation in the Southern [...] Read more.
Primary production in the Southern Ocean highly depends on phytoplankton and has been reported to be limited by the availability of the micronutrient iron. The aim of this review is to summarize the past and current knowledge on iron limitation in the Southern Ocean, and specifically how it affects primary producers, thus influencing the whole Southern Ocean community structure, carbon cycling, and large-scale ocean biogeochemistry. In this region, extensive variability exists between different areas regarding iron availability, but also between seasons. Moreover, co-limitations with other abiotic environmental factors exist, further complicating the assessment of the role of iron as limiting factor for phytoplankton productivity. Currently, climate change is altering the Southern Ocean environment. How these changes will affect resident phytoplankton is still not clear, possibly modifying the iron supply mechanisms. Existing projections point towards a possible partial relief of iron stress on phytoplankton, but the interactions between different environmental changes, and the cascade effects they will have, are still poorly understood, and some aspects understudied. Here we try to synthetize the available predictions and uncertainties concerning this topic. Full article
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27 pages, 913 KiB  
Review
Chlamydomonas Responses to Salinity Stress and Possible Biotechnological Exploitation
by Emma Bazzani, Chiara Lauritano, Olga Mangoni, Francesco Bolinesi and Maria Saggiomo
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9(11), 1242; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9111242 - 09 Nov 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4681
Abstract
Salinity is among the main drivers affecting growth and distribution of photosynthetic organisms as Chlamydomonas spp. These species can live in multiple environments, including polar regions, and have been frequently studied for their adaptation to live at different salinity gradients. Upon salinity stress [...] Read more.
Salinity is among the main drivers affecting growth and distribution of photosynthetic organisms as Chlamydomonas spp. These species can live in multiple environments, including polar regions, and have been frequently studied for their adaptation to live at different salinity gradients. Upon salinity stress (hypersalinity is the most studied), Chlamydomonas spp. were found to alter their metabolism, reduce biomass production (growth), chlorophyll content, photosynthetic activity, and simultaneously increasing radical oxygen species production as well as lipid and carotenoid contents. This review summarizes the current literature on salt stress related studies on the green algae from the genus Chlamydomonas considering physiological and molecular aspects. The overall picture emerging from the data suggests the existence of common features of the genus in response to salinity stress, as well as some differences peculiar to single Chlamydomonas species. These differences were probably linked to the different morphological characteristics of the studied algae (e.g., with or without cell wall) or different sampling locations and adaptations. On the other hand, molecular data suggest the presence of common reactions, key genes, and metabolic pathways that can be used as biomarkers of salt stress in Chlamydomonas spp., with implications for future physiological and biotechnological studies on microalgae and plants. Full article
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