While much understanding has been achieved on the intracellular sodium and potassium concentrations of halophilic and halotolerant microorganisms and on their regulation, we know little on the metabolism of anions. Archaea of the family Halobacteriaceae contain molar concentrations of chloride, which is pumped into the cells by cotransport with sodium ions and/or using the light-driven primary chloride pump halorhodopsin. Most halophilic and halotolerant representatives of the bacterial domain contain low intracellular ion concentrations, with organic osmotic solutes providing osmotic balance. However, some species show a specific requirement for chloride. In Halobacillus halophilus certain functions, such as growth, endospore germination, motility and flagellar synthesis, and glycine betaine transport are chloride dependent. In this organism the expression of a large number of proteins is chloride regulated. Other moderately halophilic Bacteria such as Halomonas elongata do not show a specific demand for chloride. A very high requirement for chloride was demonstrated in two groups of Bacteria that accumulate inorganic salts intracellularly rather than using organic osmotic solutes: the anaerobic Halanaerobiales and the aerobic extremely halophilic Salinibacter ruber. It is thus becoming increasingly clear that chloride has specific functions in haloadaptation in different groups of halophilic microorganisms.
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Acknowledgement This study was supported by a grant from the German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (G.I.F.).
- Ion metabolism