Yeast diversity in the acidic Rio Agrio-Lake Caviahue volcanic environment (Patagonia, Argentina)

Gabriel Russo, Diego Libkind, José P. Sampaio, Maria R. Van Broock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The Rio Agrio and Lake Caviahue system (RAC), in Northwestern Patagonia, is a natural acidic environment. The aims of this study were to characterize the yeast community and to provide the first ecological assessment of yeast diversity of this extreme aquatic environment. Yeast occurrence and diversity were studied at seven sites where the water pH varied between 1.8 and 6.7. Yeast CFU counts in the river ranged from 30 to 1200 CFU L-1, but in the Lake the values were lower (30-60 CFU L-1). A total of 25 different yeast species were found, 11 of which belonged to undescribed taxa. Among these was an unusual strongly acidophilic Cryptococcus species. The RAC yeast community resembles that of acidic aquatic environments resulting from anthropic activities such as the São Domingos mines in Portugal and the Rio Tinto in Spain, respectively. The isolated yeast species were organized into different grades of adaptation to the RAC aquatic system. Based on the proposed grades, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, Rhodosporidium toruloides and two novel Cryptococcus species were the most adapted species. These Cryptococcus species are apparently specialists of acidic aquatic environments, and might bear physiological features that possibly account for their ability to thrive in such extreme environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS microbiology ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2008


  • Acidic aquatic environments
  • Acidophilic yeasts
  • Biodiversity
  • Extreme environments


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