Discovery of a new family of microbes in a northern lake with a unique ecosystem – ULaval News

Located on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic, Lake A has been isolated from the world for thousands of years. “It is, in a sense, a lost world that has been preserved from all anthropogenic disturbances. The environmental conditions are particularly favorable for research into microorganisms and their potential,” emphasizes Adrien Vigneron, former postdoctoral researcher in the Sentinel North team of Professor Warwick Vincent and Connie Lovejoy from the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The team discovered the new family of microbes after genome sequencing of the lake. Scientists realized that a quarter of the microbiome in the deepest waters consisted of unknown microorganisms. “Their genome sequences had almost no matches with current databases, which allowed us to conclude that a new species of microbe colonized the deep, salty, sulfurous water of the lake,” explains the former postdoctoral researcher.

Other analyzes of the genome have made it possible to learn more about its peculiarities and capabilities. These new microorganisms appear to contribute significantly to the sulfur cycle in the water of Lake A, a relict of the Arctic Ocean. To compete with surrounding bacteria, these microbes produce an antibacterial agent. “Our results suggest that these bacteria can outperform other microorganisms by relying on a combination of metabolic versatility and biotoxicity,” reports Adrien Vigneron.

Unparalleled biodiversity

This discovery shows that there are never-before-observed microbial groups whose novel functions could be of interest for applied research. “It confirms that Arctic ecosystems harbor unique biodiversity that must be preserved,” he adds.

Located in the Canadian High Arctic, Lake A has been isolated from the world for thousands of years.

Located in the Canadian High Arctic, Lake A has been isolated from the world for thousands of years.

– ADRIEN VIGNERON

After several conversations with residents of northern villages near Lake A, the team named this species of microbe “Tariuqbacteria,” based on the base “tariuq,” which means “salt water or ocean” in Inuktitut. “It was a way to highlight the richness of the north and preserve the origins of this unique species of microbes,” reports Adrien Vigneron.

From a fundamental science perspective, this discovery also enabled the discovery of new evolutionary strategies and original metabolic pathways, which allowed us to explain the ecological success of this species in the deep waters of the lake.

The study, titled “Discovery of a novel class of bacteria with the ability to drive sulfur cycling and microbiome structure in a paleocean analog,” was published in the journal ISME Communications.


Posted

in

by