Characterization of heavy metals resistant heterotrophic bacteria from soils in the Windmill Islands region, Wilkes Land, East Antarctica

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In this study, selected heavy metals resistant heterotrophic bacteria isolated from soil samples at the Windmill Islands region, Wilkes Land (East Antarctica), were characterized. Phylogenetic analysis revealed affiliation of isolates to genera Bacillus, Lysinibacillus, Micrococcus and Stenotrophomonas. The strains were found to be psychrotolerant and halotolerant, able to tolerate up to 10% NaCl in the growth medium. The Minimum Inhibitory Concentration of the seven heavy metals Cr, Cu, Ni, Co, Cd, Zn, and Pb was determined in solid media for each bacterial strain. Gram−positive Vi−2 strain and Gram−negative Vi−4 strain showed highest multiply heavy metals resistance, and Vi−3 and Vi−4 strains showed multi−antibiotic resistance to more than a half of the 13 used antibiotics. Plasmids were detected only in Gram−negative Vi−4 strain. The bacteria were able to produce different hydrolytic enzymes including industrially important proteases, xylanases, cellulases, and β−glucosidases. High heavy metals resistance of the Antarctic bacteria suggests their potential application for wastewater treatment in cold and temperate climates. Highly sensitive to Cd and Co ions Vi−1, Vi−5 and Vi−7 strains would be promising for developing biosensors to detect these most toxic heavy metals in environmental samples.

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