A halophilic archaeal strain, YC93T, was isolated from Yuncheng salt lake in Shanxi Province, China. Cells were pleomorphic rods, stained Gram-negative and formed light-red-pigmented colonies on agar plates. Strain YC93T was able to grow at 25–50 °C (optimum 37 °C), with 1.4–4.8 M NaCl (optimum 2.0 M), with 0–1.0 M MgCl2 (optimum 0.05 M) and at pH 6.0–9.5 (optimum pH 7.0). Cells lysed in distilled water and the minimal NaCl concentration to prevent cell lysis was 8 % (w/v). 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis revealed that strain YC93T had two dissimilar 16S rRNA genes both of which were phylogenetically related to those of the two recognized members of the genus Halorussus (93.0–95.3 % similarity). The rpoB′ gene of strain YC93T was phylogenetically related to the corresponding gene of Halorussus rarus TBN4T (91.3 % similarity) and Halorussus ruber YC25T (90.5 %). The major polar lipids were phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylglycerol phosphate methyl ester, phosphatidylglycerol sulfate and five glycolipids chromatographically identical to those of Halorussus rarus CGMCC 1.10122T. The DNA G+C content of strain YC93T was 64.6 mol%. The phenotypic, chemotaxonomic and phylogenetic properties suggested that strain YC93T represents a novel species of the genus Halorussus, for which the name Halorussus amylolyticus sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is YC93T ( = CGMCC 1.12126T = JCM 18367T).
Two groups of haloalkaliphilic methanogenic archaea were dominating in enrichments from hypersaline soda lake sediments at pH 10. At moderate salt concentrations with formate or H2 as electron donor, methanogens belonging to the genus Methanocalculus were enriched, while at high salt concentrations with methylated substrates, a group related to Methanosalsum zhilinae was dominating. For both groups, several pure cultures were obtained including the type strains AMF2T for the Methanocalculus group and AME2T for the Methanosalsum group. The Methanocalculus group is characterized by lithoheterotrophic growth with either formate (preferable substrate) or H2 at moderate salinity up to 1.5–2 M total Na+ and obligate alkaliphilic growth with an optimum at pH 9.5. According to phylogenetic analysis, the group also includes closely related strains isolated previously from the low-salt alkaline Lonar Lake. The novel Methanosalsum group is characterized by high salt tolerance (up to 3.5 M total Na+) and obligate alkaliphilic growth with an optimum at pH 9.5. It has a typical methylotrophic substrate profile, utilizing methanol, methylamines and dimethyl sulfide (at low concentrations) as methanogenic substrates. On the basis of physiological and phylogenetic data, it is proposed that the two groups of soda lake methanogenic isolates are assigned into two novel species, Methanocalculus alkaliphilus sp. nov. (type strain AMF2T = DSM 24457T = UNIQEM U859T) and Methanosalsum natronophilum sp. nov. (type strain AME2T = DSM 24634T = NBRC 110091T).