A team of researchers from the Centre of Astrobiology (CAB, INTA-CSIC) have successfully identified microorganisms that inhabit salt deposits in the acidic and ferrous environment of the Rio Tinto (Red River) in Huelva, Spain. These microniches bear many similarities to the salt deposits on Mars as well as Jupiter’s moon Europa.

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Pink Lake Hillier in Australia | Andrea Maizzi

Lake Hillier is a pink-colored lake on Middle Island, the largest of the islands and islets that make up the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia. From above the lake appears a solid bubble gum pink.

Unlike other pink lakes in the world like the one in Retba and the salt ponds at San Francisco Bay, the pink color of Lake Hillier has not been decisively proved, although it is speculated that the color could arise from a dye created by the organisms Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria. Another hypothesis is that the pink color is due to red halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts. That the color is not a trick of light can be proved by taking water from the lake in a container – the pink color can be found to be permanent.  

Information Source: via Amusing Planet


Salt Lake Tuz of Turkey

Lake Tuz, or Tuz Golu in Turkish, is a saline lake located in a huge area in the arid central plateau of Turkey, about 105 km northeast of Konya. It is the second largest lake in Turkey.

The lake is fed by two major streams, groundwater, and surface water, but has no outlet, because of which it has high saline content. For most of the year, the lake is very shallow, barely a meter deep, especially during the dry summer months when the water evaporates in huge quantities leaving a tick crust of salt on the surface up to 30 centimeters thick. This salt is harvested, refined and sold all over Turkey. In fact, the 63% of the salt consumed in Turkey comes from Lake Tuz.

Like most saline lakes, Lake Tuz is a breeding ground of halophiles such as the microalgae Dunaliella salina, that in right conditions of high salinity and light intensity, turns red due to the production of protective carotenoids in the cells. These pigment color the lake blood red. The lake also attracts large colonies of birds such as greater flamingo, greater white-fronted goose and lesser kestrel. (Source)

Why is this crystal pink? It’s got microbes inside. This salt crystal is from Searles Lake, California, where salt levels are so high that few animals can live there. But halophilic (“salt-loving”) microbes called archaea breed in such abundance they can turn the saltwater—and the dried salt crystals—pink!

Some microbes can remain alive inside salt crystals for months or even years, in tiny drops of liquid called fluid inclusions. In one extreme case, scientists revived 34,000-year-old archaea found in a salt crystal. Fluid inclusions have been found in meteorites and Mars rocks—raising questions about whether similar microbes could survive underground on other planets.

Find more extraordinary stories in the exhibition, Life at the Limits, open now. 

Image: AMNH/R.Mickens

An analysis of the rind of an Austrian alpine cheese reveals some unusual microorganisms, including a bacteria with origins in the ocean. Via Phys.org

Scientists explore the cheese rind microbiome

Bacteria and moulds are vital to the ripening and aroma of many cheeses. Scientists from the Institute for Milk Hygiene, Milk Technology and Food Science at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna are working to identify the microorganisms that live on the rind of Vorarlberger Bergkäse, an Austrian alpine cheese. 

For the first time, these genetic analyses have revealed the entire spectrum of microorganisms that inhabit Vorarlberger Bergkäse. One find interested experts in particular: The Halomonas bacteria, a halophillic microbe probably originating from the sea, was the most common microorganism on the cheese and especially prevalent on young cheese rinds. Since the salt concentration on a cheese rind drops during the ripening process, researchers found older rinds hosted correspondingly fewer Halomonas. The exact role the microorganism plays in the cheese-making process is currently unknown and will be the subject of additional studies. The importance of the yeasts found on the cheese rinds is also still unclear and requires further investigation.

Microorganisms on cheese not only preserve the final product and make it aromatic and delicious; they are also very important for food safety. Many of the bacteria on the rind prevent the spread of potentially dangerous pathogens by excreting inhibitors against other bacteria, such as listeria.

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(Photo ©2014 Phys.org)


Les microbes extrêmophiles sont des micro-organismes parfaitement adaptés à des conditions extrêmes pour l’homme. Certains sont dits thermophiles (hautes températures), d’autres psychrophiles (basses températures), halophiles (forte concentration en sel), acidophiles (pH faible), etc. Ils vivent dans des milieux particuliers, comme les abysses, les geysers, les calottes glacières… Voici donc sulfolobus, pyrolobus fumarii et thermoplasma !

(prière de ne pas les nourrir, même s’ils ont l’air gentils)

Day 47 of 365, today I am grateful for Microbio! We played our unknown soil isolated bacteria yesterday and today this is some of what I found! The three red plates show that my bacteria unknowns are growing on blood agar played and that they can completely lysis the cell! The only down side is that means they could be a pathogen but they could not so that’s super exciting and the pink and yellow one indicated that my bacteria is a halophile meaning it likes salt, and the area where it turned yellow means it can ferment mannitol which is super cool too! I’m just grateful for getting to do all of this research and gaining lab skills! And it’s just so cool!!! #365grateful #grandness #bacteria #microbiology #science #biologymajors #bloodagarplate #fun #cool #grows #soil

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Lake Owens, California: The Dustiest Place in the U.S

After being diverted in 1913 to provide water to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, Lake Owens has become the largest source of dust pollution in the United States. Now a massive salt flat, the lake hosts a strangle new ecology: during “wet” years, for example, a briny chemical soup of bright pink halophilic (salt-loving) archaea spread across the lake bed. The lake provides half of all of L.A.’s water and is infamous as the scene of one of the fiercest and most prolonged episodes of the California Water Wars. Indeed, these events inspired parts of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. In the late 1990s, the city of L.A. agreed to a cleanup plan which has become one of the largest dust-control projects in the U.S. To date, it has spent more than a billion dollars on dust-control measures such as shallow flooding, managed vegetation, and gravel blanketing.