Filamentous cyanobacteria are the main founders and primary producers in biological desert soil crusts (BSCs) and are likely equipped to cope with one of the harshest environmental conditions on earth including daily hydration/dehydration cycles, high irradiance and extreme temperatures. Here, we resolved and report on the genome sequence of Leptolyngbya ohadii, an important constituent of the BSC. Comparative genomics identified a set of genes present in desiccation-tolerant but not in dehydration-sensitive cyanobacteria. RT qPCR analyses showed that the transcript abundance of many of them is upregulated during desiccation in L. ohadii. In addition, we identified genes where the orthologs detected in desiccation-tolerant cyanobacteria differs substantially from that found in desiccation-sensitive cells. We present two examples, treS and fbpA (encoding trehalose synthase and fructose 1,6-bisphosphate aldolase respectively) where, in addition to the orthologs present in the desiccation-sensitive strains, the resistant cyanobacteria also possess genes with different predicted structures. We show that in both cases the two orthologs are transcribed during controlled dehydration of L. ohadii and discuss the genetic basis for the acclimation of cyanobacteria to the desiccation conditions in desert BSC.© 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Journal: Environmental microbiology