Dynamics of a bloom of halophilic archaea in the Dead Sea

Aharon Oren*, Peter Gurevich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


After a period of more than ten years in which bacterial and algal community sizes were extremely small, a dense bloom of halophilic archaea developed in the upper 5-10 m of the Dead Sea water column in the summer of 1992. The development of this bloom followed a dilution of the upper water layer by winter rainfloods, which enabled the development of a short-lived dense bloom of the unicellular green alga Dunaliella parva. The dense archaeal community (up to 3.5 × 107 cells m1-1 in June 1992) imparted a red coloration to the Dead Sea, due to its high content of bacterioruberin. Bacteriorhodopsin was not detected. High levels of potential heterotrophic activity were associated with the bloom, as measured by the incorporation of labeled organic substrates. After the decline of the algal bloom, archaeal numbers in the lake decreased only little, and most of the community was still present at the end of 1993. The amount of carotenoid pigment per cell, however, decreased 2-3-fold between June 1992 and August 1993. No new algal and archaeal blooms developed after the winter floods of 1992-1993, in spite of the fact that salinity values in the surface layer were sufficiently low to support a new algal bloom. A remnant of the 1992 Dunaliella bloom maintained itself at the lower end of the pycnocline at depths between 7 and 13 m (September 1992-August 1993). Its photosynthetic activity was small, and very little stimulation of archaeal growth and activity was associated with this algal community.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1995


  • Dead Sea
  • Dunaliella
  • Haloferax
  • archaea
  • heterotrophic activity


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