Heavy metal resistance in halophilic Bacteria and Archaea

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Abstract

Heavy metals are dense chemicals with dual biological role as micronutrients and intoxicants. A few hypersaline environmental systems are naturally enriched with heavy metals, while most metal-contaminated sites are a consequence of human activities. Numerous halotolerant and moderately halophilic Bacteria possess metal tolerance, whereas a few archaeal counterparts share similar features. The main mechanisms underlying heavy metal resistance in halophilic Bacteria and Archaea include extracellular metal sequestration by biopolymers, metal efflux mediated by specific transporters and enzymatic detoxification. Biotransformation of metals by halophiles has implications both for trace metal turnover in natural saline ecosystems and for development of novel bioremediation strategies.

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