Microbial biodiversity is difficult to measure in extreme environments due to the inability to culture many of the species, especially from hypersaline environments. Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah, USA offers a unique ecology to study microbial diversity across a salt gradient. GSL has increasing salt from South to North that varies from marine salt concentrations to saturation, respectively. We used three methods to examine the biodiversity of the GSL-traditional cultivation on solid media, 16s rRNA gene sequencing, multiplexed 16s rRNA gene hybridization to the phylochip, and DNA hybridization to the Geochip for metabolic diversity estimates. Over 40 isolates from the North Arm were obtained, while six were selected for identification. Isolates included gammaproteobacteria, bacilli, and actinobacteria. Sequencing the 16S rRNA genes for identification yielded 350 clones. Refraction curves indicated that this did not represent the bacterial diversity of the GSL, while estimation of the diversity with the Affymetrix phylochip produced over 1000 different genera in 31 different families. Estimation of the metabolic diversity found that genes for each activity were present in all three locations. The gene abundance was similar in all locations, except for metal use where the gene abundance declined as the salt gradient declined. This study provides the first evidence of the large microbial diversity supported by GSL to provide a large metabolic potential independent of the salt concentration.
Weimer, Bart C.; Rompato, Giovanni; Parnell, Jacob; Gann, Reed; Ganesan, Balasubramanian; Navas, Cristian; Gonzalez, Martin; Clavel, Mario; and Albee-Scott, Steven
"Microbial biodiversity of Great Salt Lake, Utah,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 15, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol15/iss1/3