The divalent cation requirement of Dead Sea halobacteria

Simone Cohen, Aharon Oren, Moshe Shilo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Pleomorphic Halobacterium strains isolated from the Dead Sea (H. volcanii, H. marismortui) require high concentrations of divalent cations (75 mM Mg2+) for growth. When suspended in medium containing less than 50 mM Mg2+ cells lose their native shape within minutes and become spherical. This occurs even at elevated sodium chloride concentrations. Concomitant with the morphological changes, a high mlecular weight component which is positive in Coomassie Brilliant Blue and in periodate Schiff stain is released into the surrounding medium. At divalent cation concentrations lower than 100 mM magnesium cells were shown to lose their viability and their ability to incorporate amino acids. The potency of different divalent cations or their combinations to enable growth and stabilize morphology and viability was studied. It is suggested that different mechanisms underlie the divalent cation requirement of the different functions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • Dead Sea bacteria
  • Halobacteria
  • Magnesium tolerance


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