Bergey’s Manual recognizes only one species in the genus Halobacterium.
This species is H. salinarum. Although only one species is
currently recognized, there are many strains that are currently acknowledged.
These strains will most likely be defined as new species in the future.
The above picture is a scanning electron micrograph (150,000X) of H. salinarum.
Halobacteria, which require approximately 12-15% salt concentration for growth, have been isolated from many types of saline environments. These include salt seas, salt lakes, rock salt, and saline soils. The red carotenoids of the bacteria are responsible for the red appearances of salt seas, such as the Red Sea. Halobacteria can also be found on salted fish, salted hides, bacon, and sausage. These microorganisms can often be attributed to the spoilage of these foods.
There are currently few applications for species in the genus Halobacterium. There is, however, research being conducted concerning the use of Halobacteria for clean up of Department of Defense sites. Research is also being conducted dealing with the use of Halobacterium enzymes to increase the amount of crude oil recovered from underground wells.
The above picture shows a bloom of Halobacteria in a saline pond at a salt works near San Quintin, Mexico.
Holt, J.G.; Kreig, N.R.; Sneath, P.H.A.; Staley, J.T.; Williams, S.T. 1994. Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology, 9th ed. Williams and Wilkins. Baltimore, Maryland.
Madigan, M.T.; Martinko, J.M.; Parker, T. 1997. Brock Biology of Microorganisms. Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Javor, Barbara. 1989. Hypersaline Environments; Microbiology and Biogeochemistry. Springer-Verlag. Berlin.
Tortora, G.J.; Funke, B.R.; Case, C.L. 1996. Microbiology: An Introduction. The Benjamin/ Cummings Publishing Co. Redwood City, California.
Vreeland, R.H.; Hochstein, L.I. 1993. The Biology of Halophilic Bacteria.
CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida.
The Univeristy of Wisconsin: Major Groups of Prokaryotes. This site contains information on Archea Bacteria including a discussion of Halophiles.
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