Salt acclimation in cyanobacteria


Transcriptome analysis of prochlorococcus AS9601 (isolate of the Arabian sea): a model organism for developing bioenergy systems


The biological process of salt acclimation in salt sensitive cyanobacteria is not clearly understood.  Studying and understanding salt acclimation has implications in biotechnology and fundamental science.  From a biotechnology stand point – understanding salt acclimation can lead to the design and use of salt-tolerant cyanobacteria for bioenergy in saline and/or brackish water.   Whereas, from a fundamental scientific standpoint – understanding salt acclimation in cyanobacteria will allow us to predict the impact of rising ocean salinity due to climate change on primary production in the world’s oceans.  The organism Prochlorococcus strain AS9601 was chosen for this work because of its simplistic features (small genome and minimal nutrient requirement) and characteristics of its native environment.  Prochlorococcus AS9601 was isolated from the Arabian Sea, an environment considered to have higher salinity and temperatures than what is reported for other seas around the world.  We determined that the salt tolerance threshold of Prochlorococcus AS9601 is 5% w/v, thereby classifying it as a moderately salt tolerant microbe.  However, we know very little about the molecular processes leading to salt acclimation in this organism.   To address this, we compared whole cell transcriptomic analysis (RNAseq) of two exponential-phase populations of AS9601 – acclimated to high salt (5% w/v) vs. normal seawater salt (3.8% w/v).  This approach enabled us to identify the major biochemical pathways in a cell that are impacted by salt.   



 Al-Hosani S,  Oudah M.M.,  Henschel A., Yousef, L.F. (2015). Global transcriptome analysis of salt acclimated Prochlorococcus AS9601. Microbiological Research 176; 21-28 link

Alumni members involved:

Sumaya Al-Hosani, MSc 2014

Microbiology Research Lab

Microbiology Research Lab