Detailed identification of desert-originated bacteria carried by Asian dust storms to Japan
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Several halotolerant bacteria were isolated from dust allowed to settle passively on saline medium in Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan during Asia dust events in 2005–2006. The primary identification, based on the sequence similarity of the 16S rRNA gene, revealed that these isolates were strains of Bacillus subtilis, B. licheniformis, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Gracillibacillus sp., and Halomonas venusta. A parallel investigation carried out on desert sand collected directly from sand dunes in Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China resulted in the revivification of seven bacterial strains that were highly identical to the B. subtilis and B. licheniformis strains obtained in Higashi-Hiroshima (99.7 and 10027777730300f 16S rDNA sequence similarity, respectively). A subsequent genetic analysis on the group of B. licheniformis isolates based on the universally house-keeping genes, gyrB and parE, revealed high sequence similarities in both genes among the strains of both locations (99.0–99.4%), which clustered them in a monophyletic line. Phenotype characterized by numerical taxonomy for 150 physiological tests confirmed the close relatedness between strains (similarity coefficient S SM = 96.0%). The remarkable agreement between phenotype and genotype of the bacterial isolates allows us to conclude that there may have been an aerosolized dispersion of a Gobi Desert B. licheniformis by dust storms to Japan. This study provides evidence of microbial transport by yellow dust events in North-East Asia.
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