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Can J Microbiol. 2010 Jan;56(1):44-51. doi: 10.1139/w09-102.

Microbial community of salt crystals processed from Mediterranean seawater based on 16S rRNA analysis.

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Ecole Nationale d'Ingénieurs de Sfax, Unité de Recherche: Etude et Gestion des Environnements Côtier et Urbain, B.P. 1173, 3038 Sfax, Tunisia.


Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA was used to investigate for the first time the structure of the microbial community that inhabits salt crystals retrieved from the bottom of a solar saltern, located in the coastal area of the Mediterranean Sea (Sfax, Tunisia). This community lives in an extremely salty environment of 250-310 g/L total dissolved salt. A total of 78 bacterial 16S rRNA clone sequences making up to 21 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), determined by the DOTUR program to 97% sequence similarity, was analyzed. These OTUs were affiliated to Bacteroidetes (71.4% of OTUs), and gamma-Proteobacteria and alpha-Proteobacteria (equally represented by 14.2% of the OTUs observed). The archaeal community composition appeared more diverse with 68 clones, resulting in 44 OTUs, all affiliated with the Euryarchaeota phylum. Of the bacterial and archaeal clones showing <97% 16S rRNA sequence identity with sequences in public databases, 47.6% and 84.1% respectively were novel clones. Both rarefaction curves and diversity measurements (Simpson, Shannon-Weaver, Chao) showed a more diverse archaeal than bacterial community at the Tunisian solar saltern pond. The analysis of an increasing clone's number may reveal additional local diversity.

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