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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 783, 2021, 147094

White Rann of Kachchh harbours distinct microbial diversity reflecting its unique biogeography

Prachi Singha, Kunal R. Jaina, Varun Shahb,c, Datta Madamwara,d

Post-Graduate Department of Biosciences, UGC Centre of Advanced Study, Sardar Patel University, Satellite Campus, Vadtal Road, Bakrol, 388 315 Anand, Gujarat, India.

Abstract

The understanding of sub-surface soil microbial diversity is limited at both saline and hypersaline ecosystems, even though salinity is found to affect the microbial community in aqueous and terrestrial environment. In this study, a phylo-taxonomy analysis as well as the functional characteristics of microbial community of flat salt basin of White Rann of Kachchh (WR), Gujarat, India was performed along the natural salinity gradient. The high throughput sequencing approach has revealed the numerical abundance of bacteria relative to the archaea. Salinity, TOC, EC and sulphate concentration might be the primary driver of the community distribution along the transect at WR. The much anticipated effect of salinity gradient on the microbial composition surprisingly turned out to be more speculative, with little variance in the community composition along the spatial distance of WR. The metabolic pathways involved in energy metabolism (like carbon, nitrogen, sulphur) along with environmental adaptive genes (like osmotic and oxidative stress response, heat and cold shock genes clusters) were abundantly annotated from shot-gun metagenomic study. The carbonic anhydrase harbouring bacteria Bacillus sp. DM4CA1 was isolated from WR, having a catalytic ability for converting the gaseous carbon dioxide in presence of calcium carbonate into calcite at 25 % higher rate as compared to non-harbouring strains. The enzyme has a role in multiple alternative pathways in microbial metabolism. With the array of results obtained, the study could become the new reference for understanding the diversity structure and functional characteristics of the microbial community of terrestrial saline environment.

Keywords: Salinity gradient, Stress environment, Carbonic anhydrase, Archaea, Oligotrophic.

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