A roundtable discussion was held on Monday, 12 May 2008, following the sessions on 'Microorganisms in Hypersaline Environments' at the 10th Conference on Salt Lake Research & 2008 FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Among the aspects discussed were: 1. The gap between our knowledge of the microorganisms isolated in culture and the true microbial diversity as apparent when using culture-independent techniques, in most cases based on the characterization of small subunit ribosomal RNA genes; 2. The metabolic diversity of the microorganisms inhabiting saline and hypersaline lakes and the lack of information to what extent the metabolic potential of the microbiota as apparent from culture studies or detection of functional genes is realized in the environment; 3. The limited understanding of the diversity of algae, bacteriophages and protozoa in hypersaline lakes and their relative importance of such microbial predators and grazing animals on the regulation of the microbial community sizes in such lakes; 4. The impact of high throughput "-omics" technologies for assessing the diversity and metabolism of hypersaline environments. In recent years a number of comprehensive studies were performed in selected hypersaline environments. In recent years a number of comprehensive studies were performed in selected hypersaline environments by large interdisciplinary teams of scientists. Such studies contribute invaluable information to define the nature and function of the microbial communities in such environments. However, the inability to independently grow specific organisms compared to the genetic diversity revealed by non-cultivation techniques indicates that additional work is needed to develop and define in vitro cultivation conditions. More of such studies are needed, with the appropriate funding, to solve the basic questions relating to the importance of microorganisms in saline lakes and other hypersaline ecosystems.
Oren, Aharon; Baxter, Bonnie K.; and Weimer, Bart C.
"Microbial communities in salt lakes: Phylogenetic diversity, metabolic diversity, and in situ activities,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 15, Article 51.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol15/iss1/51