Colorimetric microbial diversity analysis and halotolerance along a soil salinity gradient at the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma
Schneegurt, Mark A.
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Schneegurt, Mark A. 2012. Colorimetric microbial diversity analysis and halotolerance along a soil salinity gradient at the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma. Research in Microbiology, Available online 12 October 2012
Microbial diversity was measured along a salinity gradient at the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma using colony color quantified as RGB components of microbial isolate streaks. Numerical taxonomy was performed using a UPGMA method to create trees of relatedness, define OTUs, and calculate diversity indices. Surface soil samples along a 6-m salinity gradient (from hypersaline soil with 7.5% salinity to oligohaline rangeland soil) at WP68 were dilution-plated on SP medium of various salinities and hundreds of random colonies were collected. The salinity tolerance of isolates along the gradient was determined. From the 1364 colonies examined, 338 OTUs were defined by colony color and their distribution statistically analyzed by soil type and the salinity of enrichment media. Most colonies were shades of cream that became distinguishable based on RGB color components. Diversity indices were high overall and it is likely that the OTUs defined by colony color are below the species level, at the strain level, where the greatest diversity lies in this environment. These results are complementary to previous molecular genetic analyses of 16S rRNA clone libraries from soils at the Great Salt Plains. Great diversity at lower taxonomic levels supports the suggestion that gene flow is not highly fragmented, a result of less specialization, as expected given the highly variable salinity observed at the salt flats with rain events.
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