Microorganisms from Extreme Environments: Versatile Tools from Biotechnology to Space Colonization

A special issue of Microorganisms (ISSN 2076-2607). This special issue belongs to the section "Microbial Biotechnology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2024) | Viewed by 7377

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Science and Technology, Parthenope University of Naples, Centro Direzionale Isola C4, 80143 Napoli, Italy
Interests: biochemistry; microorganisms in extreme conditions; planetary field analogues
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry of the Italian Research Council, Rome, Italy
Interests: extremophilic bacteria; anaerobic thermophiles; enzymes; biocleaning cultural heritage; antibacterial activity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Extreme environments on Earth host a variety of microorganisms that have developed strategies to survive to a variety of harsh conditions of pH, temperature, salinity, radiations, absence of water or oxygen, pressure. Their resistance to such extreme conditions relies on the ability to produce resistant cellular structures and to modulate the metabolic activities in response to the external stressing factors. Thanks to their resistance and to the ability to produce valuable biomolecules (exopolymers, enzymes, osmolytes, et cetera) they constitute a valuable tool for several applications ranging from biotechnology, to medicine, to industry or, more recently, for the issue of space colonization. Papers dealing with the identification of new microbial life forms from extreme environments; with the characterization of enzymes, biopolymers and other metabolites of potential application in biotechnology produced by microorganisms form extreme environments; with the study of adaptation and response of microorganisms form extreme environments, to real or simulated space conditions of relevance for Astrobiology will be considered for this Special Issue.

Dr. Paola Di Donato
Dr. Ida Romano
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • microorganisms
  • extreme environments
  • biotechnology
  • enzymes
  • biopolymers
  • osmolytes
  • astrobiology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 3401 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Silver Nanoparticles (AgNPs) on Thermophilic Bacteria: Antibacterial, Morphological, Physiological and Biochemical Investigations
by Israt Jahan, Fatma Matpan Bekler, Ahmed Tunç and Kemal Güven
Microorganisms 2024, 12(2), 402; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12020402 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 970
Abstract
Since thermophilic microorganisms are valuable sources of thermostable enzymes, it is essential to recognize the potential toxicity of silver nanoparticles used in diverse industrial sectors. Thermophilic bacteria Geobacillus vulcani 2Cx, Bacillus licheniformis 3CA, Paenibacillus macerans 3CA1, Anoxybacillus ayderensis FMB1, and Bacillus paralicheniformis FMB2-1 [...] Read more.
Since thermophilic microorganisms are valuable sources of thermostable enzymes, it is essential to recognize the potential toxicity of silver nanoparticles used in diverse industrial sectors. Thermophilic bacteria Geobacillus vulcani 2Cx, Bacillus licheniformis 3CA, Paenibacillus macerans 3CA1, Anoxybacillus ayderensis FMB1, and Bacillus paralicheniformis FMB2-1 were selected, and their MIC and MBC values were assessed by treatment with AgNPs in a range of 62.5–1500 μg mL−1. The growth inhibition curves showed that the G. vulcani 2Cx, and B. paralicheniformis FMB2-1 strains were more sensitive to AgNPs, demonstrating a reduction in population by 71.1% and 31.7% at 62.5 μg mL−1 and by 82.9% and 72.8% at 250 μg mL−1, respectively. TEM and FT-IR analysis revealed that AgNPs caused structural damage, cytoplasmic leakage, and disruption of cellular integrity. Furthermore, cell viability showed a significant decrease alongside an increase in superoxide radical (SOR; O2) production. β-galactosidase biosynthesis decreased to 28.8% level at 500 μg mL−1 AgNPs for G. vulcani 2Cx, 32.2% at 250 μg mL−1 for A. ayderensis FMB1, and 38.8% only at 62.5 μg mL−1, but it was completely inhibited at 500 μg mL−1 for B. licheniformis 3CA. Moreover, B. paralicheniformis FMB2-1 showed a significant decrease to 11.2% at 125 μg mL−1. This study is the first to reveal the toxic effects of AgNPs on thermophilic bacteria. Full article
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16 pages, 7378 KiB  
Article
Reduced Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cell Size Observed on Planktonic Cultures Grown in the International Space Station
by Katherinne Herrera-Jordan, Pamela Pennington and Luis Zea
Microorganisms 2024, 12(2), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12020393 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1112
Abstract
Bacterial growth and behavior have been studied in microgravity in the past, but little focus has been directed to cell size despite its impact on a myriad of processes, including biofilm formation, which is impactful regarding crew health. To interrogate this characteristic, supernatant [...] Read more.
Bacterial growth and behavior have been studied in microgravity in the past, but little focus has been directed to cell size despite its impact on a myriad of processes, including biofilm formation, which is impactful regarding crew health. To interrogate this characteristic, supernatant aliquots of P. aeruginosa cultured on different materials and media on board the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Space Biofilms Project were analyzed. For that experiment, P. aeruginosa was grown in microgravity—with matching Earth controls—in modified artificial urine medium (mAUMg-high Pi) or LB Lennox supplemented with KNO3, and its formation of biofilms on six different materials was assessed. After one, two, and three days of incubation, the ISS crew terminated subsets of the experiment by fixation in paraformaldehyde, and aliquots of the supernatant were used for the planktonic cell size study presented here. The measurements were obtained post-flight through the use of phase contrast microscopy under oil immersion, a Moticam 10+ digital camera, and the FIJI image analysis program. Statistical comparisons were conducted to identify which treatments caused significant differences in cell dimensions using the Kruskal–Wallis and Dunn tests. There were statistically significant differences as a function of material present in the culture in both LBK and mAUMg-high Pi. Along with this, the data were also grouped by gravitational condition, media, and days of incubation. Comparison of planktonic cells cultured in microgravity showed reduced cell length (from 4% to 10% depending on the material) and diameter (from 1% to 10% depending on the material) with respect to their matching Earth controls, with the caveat that the cultures may have been at different points in their growth curve at a given time. In conclusion, smaller cells were observed on the cultures grown in microgravity, and cell size changed as a function of incubation time and the material upon which the culture grew. We describe these changes here and possible implications for human space travel in terms of crew health and potential applications. Full article
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15 pages, 6666 KiB  
Article
Bacilli in the International Space Station
by Andrea Quagliariello, Angela Cirigliano and Teresa Rinaldi
Microorganisms 2022, 10(12), 2309; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10122309 - 22 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3603
Abstract
Astronauts remote from Earth, not least those who will inhabit the Moon or Mars, are vulnerable to disease due to their reduced immunity, isolation from clinical support, and the disconnect from any buffering capacity provided by the Earth. Here, we explore potential risks [...] Read more.
Astronauts remote from Earth, not least those who will inhabit the Moon or Mars, are vulnerable to disease due to their reduced immunity, isolation from clinical support, and the disconnect from any buffering capacity provided by the Earth. Here, we explore potential risks for astronaut health, focusing on key aspects of the biology of Bacillus anthracis and other anthrax-like bacilli. We examine aspects of Bacillus cereus group genetics in relation to their evolutionary biology and pathogenicity; a new clade of the Bacillus cereus group, close related to B. anthracis, has colonized the International Space Station (ISS), is still present, and could in theory at least acquire pathogenic plasmids from the other B. cereus group strains. The main finding is that the genomic sequence alignments of the B. cereus group ISS strains revealed a high sequence identity, indicating they originated from the same strain and that a close look to the genetic variations among the strains suggesting they lived, or they are living, in a vegetative form in the ISS enough time to accumulate genetic variations unique for each single strains. Full article
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