Microbiology of hyper-arid environments: recent insights from the Atacama Desert, Chile

Bull, Alan T. and Asenjo, Juan A. (2013) Microbiology of hyper-arid environments: recent insights from the Atacama Desert, Chile. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 103 (6). pp. 1173-1179. ISSN 0003-6072. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10482-013-9911-7) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10482-013-9911-7

Abstract

Interests in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile until very recently were founded on its mineral resources, notably nitrate, copper, lithium and boron. Now this vast desert, the oldest and most arid on Earth, is revealing a microbial diversity that was unimagined even a decade or so ago; indeed the extreme hyper-arid core of the Desert was considered previously to be completely devoid of life. In this Perspective article we highlight pioneering research that, to the contrary, establishes the Atacama as a combination of rich microbial habitats including bacteria that influence biogeochemical transformations in the desert and others that are propitious sources of novel natural products. Many of the Atacama’s habitats are especially rich in actinobacteria, not necessarily as dense populations but extensive in taxonomic diversity and capacities to synthesize novel secondary metabolites. Among the latter, compounds have been characterized that express a range of antibiotic, anti-cancer and anti- inflammatory properties to which a variety of bioinformatics and metabolic engineering tools are being applied in order to enhance potencies and productivities. Unquestionably the Atacama Desert is a living desert with regard to which future microbiology and biotechnology research presents exciting opportunities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Atacama Desert Bioactive metabolites Geology Hyper-aridity Microbial diversity Subsurface communities
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Biosciences
Depositing User: Sue Davies
Date Deposited: 20 May 2013 11:03 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2014 11:43 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/33925 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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