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Baricz A, Coman C, Andrei A-S, Muntean V, Keresztes ZG, Pausan M, Alexe M, Banciu HL. . Spatial and temporal distribution of archaeal diversity in meromictic, hypersaline Ocnei Lake (Transylvanian Basin, Romania). Extremophiles, 18 (2), pp. 399-413, 2014.

Abstract: Saline, meromictic lakes with significant depth are usually formed as a result of salt mining activity. Ocnei Lake is one of the largest Transylvanian (Central Romania) neutral, hypersaline lake of man-made origin. We aimed to survey the seasonal dynamics of archaeal diversity in the water column of Ocnei Lake by employing microbiological methods as well as molecular techniques based on the sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene. We found that archaeal diversity in the water column increased with depth and salinity, with 8 OTUs being detected in the epilimnion compared to 21 found in the chemocline, and 32 OTUs in the monimolimnion. Down to 3.5 m depth, the archaeal community was markedly dominated by the presence of an unclassified archaeon sharing 93% sequence identity to Halogeometricum spp. At the chemocline, the shift in archaeal community composition was associated with an increase in salinity, the main factor affecting the vertical distribution of archaeal assemblages. It appears that the microoxic and hypersaline monimolimnion is populated by several major haloarchaeal taxa, with minor fluctuations in their relative abundances throughout all seasons. The culturable diversity was reasonably correlated to the dominant OTUs obtained by molecular methods. Our results indicate that Ocnei Lake represents a relatively stable extreme habitat, accommodating a diverse and putatively novel archaeal community, as 30% of OTUs could not be classified at the genus level.

Keywords: Chemocline, 16S rRNA gene clone library, Epilimnion, Halobacteriaceaea, Monimolimnion


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