Cold−adapted marine bacteria producing extracellular hydrolytic enzymes are important for their industrial application and play a key role in degradation of particulate organic matter in their natural environment. In this work, members of a previously−obtained protease−producing bacterial collection isolated from different marine sources from Potter Cove (King George Island, South Shetlands) were taxonomically identified and screened for their ability to produce other economically relevant enzymes. Eighty−eight proteolytic bacterial isolates were grouped into 25 phylotypes based on their Amplified Ribosomal DNA Restriction Analysis profiles. The sequencing of the 16S rRNA genes from representative isolates of the phylotypes showed that the predominant culturable protease−producing bacteria belonged to the class Gammaproteobacteria and were affiliated to the genera Pseudomonas, Shewanella, Colwellia, and Pseudoalteromonas, the latter being the predominant group (64% of isolates). In addition, members of the classes Actinobacteria, Bacilli and Flavobacteria were found. Among the 88 isolates screened we detected producers of amylases (21), pectinases (67), cellulases (53), CM−cellulases (68), xylanases (55) and agarases (57). More than 85% of the isolates showed at least one of the extracellular enzymatic activities tested, with some of them producing up to six extracellular enzymes. Our results confirmed that using selective conditions to isolate producers of one extracellular enzyme activity increases the probability of recovering bacteria that will also produce additional extracellular enzymes. This finding establishes a starting point for future programs oriented to the prospecting for biomolecules in Antarctica.
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