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Red and violet microbes give Australia Lake a mysterious pink color

DNA sequencing showed it gets the color of a bright pink lake on an island near Western Australia from a mixture of salt-loving bacterial algae.

The Australian lake “Barbie Pink” offers a wonderful view

A new study has revealed that a long-standing mystery is the unusual shade of pink gum in a lake in Western Australia, caused by a specific mixture of bacteria and algae. Lake Hillier is located on the Central Island off the southern coast of Western Australia.

The lake is 600 meters long and 250 meters wide and is especially salty.

Salinity is about eight times that of the ocean. Scott Tighe, a fellow at the University of Vermont at Burlington, became interested in Lake Hillier when he saw a highly colored lake on a TV show.

Aerial view of Lake Hillier in AustraliaSource: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2311507-red-and-purple-microbes-give-australias-mysterious-pink-lake-its-hue/

Tighe is co-founder of the Extreme Microbiome Project, an international collaboration that genetically characterizes special environments in order to discover new and interesting microbes. Tighe teamed up with Ken McGrath of Microba, the Brisbane-based microbial genome company, with whom he visited Lake Hillier to collect water and sediment samples.

Scientist Stefan Green, Extreme Microbiome Project Scientist, took a sample from the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan.Source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2311507-red-and-purple-microbes-give-australias-mysterious-pink-lake-its-hue/

Tighe, McGrath and colleagues analyzed the collected samples using metangenomics, a method that ranks all DNA in one environmental sample at a time. The genomes of each microbe were then isolated using high-performance computers. Their analysis showed that Lake Hillier contains nearly 500 different extreme organisms — organisms that thrive in harsh environments — including bacteria, archaea, algae and viruses. Most of the extremophiles identified here are halophytes (halophytes) and tolerate high levels of salt well.

Not only the colorful lake is explored, but also the “Hell Gate” and other harsh environments

These include a number of colorful microbes, such as the red and orange purple sulfur bacteria (Robert Salinibacter), and the Donalila Salina Red algae species. A combination of these microbes and possibly other conditions waiting to be detected is causing Lake Hillier’s unusual color, says Tighe. According to the researcher, the reason these microbes can be so colorful is because the carotenoids, that is, the purple, red, and orange pigments they contain,

They offer some protection against extreme salinity.

Some of the microbes discovered in Lake Hillier seem new to science, but their comprehensive definition is not yet clear.

Extreme Microbiome Project researchers Scott Teague and Sarah Johnson took samples from the dry valleys of Antarctica.Source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2311507-red-and-purple-microbes-give-australias-mysterious-pink-lake-its-hue/

Scientists from the Extreme Microbiome Project have also sampled other extreme environments, such as the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan, also known as the “Gate of Hell,” but they have been exploring the Antarctic Dry Valley or off the coast of West Greenland under the 3rd floor ocean, salt lakes and Movile Cave in Romania, 5 km away.

Samantha Joy, Extreme Microbiome Project Scientist, takes a sample from a deep-sea saltwater pool on the Alvin submarine in the Gulf of Mexico.Source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2311507-red-and-purple-microbes-give-australias-mysterious-pink-lake-its-hue/

The team now plans to sample Danakil Crater in Ethiopia, which contains toxic hot springs, and Magic Lake in Australia, which is “as acidic as battery acid,” Tighe said of their further research plans.

(Source: New World)

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