The Halobacteria are known to engage in frequent gene transfer and homologous recombination. For stably diverged lineages to persist some checks on the rate of between lineage recombination must exist. We surveyed a group of isolates from the Aran-Bidgol endorheic lake in Iran and sequenced a selection of them. Multilocus Sequence Analysis (MLSA) and Average Nucleotide Identity (ANI) revealed multiple clusters (phylogroups) of organisms present in the lake. Patterns of intein and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs) presence/absence and their sequence similarity, GC usage along with the ANI and the identities of the genes used in the MLSA revealed that two of these clusters share an exchange bias toward others in their phylogroup while showing reduced rates of exchange with other organisms in the environment. However, a third cluster, composed in part of named species from other areas of central Asia, displayed many indications of variability in exchange partners, from within the lake as well as outside the lake. We conclude that barriers to gene exchange exist between the two purely Aran-Bidgol phylogroups, and that the third cluster with members from other regions is not a single population and likely reflects an amalgamation of several populations.
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