SUMMARY: When sodium chloride crystallizes in an evaporitic environment, living halobacteria are entrapped within the fluid inclusions which form as the crystals develop. Trapped cells have been observed in natural salts from a marine saltern and from Lake Magadi. Entrapment occurs under both neutral and alkaline conditions. Salt crystals have been grown under controlled conditions from solutions containing pure culture suspensions of halobacteria at densities comparable to those reported from natural evaporitic habitats. Crystals formed in solutions heavily loaded with bacterial cells contained more and larger inclusions than crystals formed from sterile solutions, and thus bacterial entrapment may affect the physical characteristics of the product. Representative strains of each major grouping within the Halobacteriaceae except the genus exhibited entrapment and survival within salt crystals. Continued motility has been demonstrated for up to three weeks after entrapment. All strains tested to date retained viability for a minimum of six months. Non-motile and non-viable cells were also entrapped.


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