Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 200, Issue 9, pp 1333–1343 | Cite as

Phylogenetic diversity and metabolic potential of microbiome of natural healing clay from Chamliyal (J&K)

  • Sakshi Sharma
  • Simmi Grewal
  • Jyoti VakhluEmail author
Original Paper


Clay therapy for skin disease treatment is an ancient practice popular worldwide as a cheap alternative to pharmaceutical products. Effectiveness of clay against skin problems has been linked to its mineral composition and to microbial activity. The clay–water paste of a holy shrine Chamliyal in the Jammu region of J&K, India is used as an ointment to treat different skin disorders particularly psoriasis. Using the 16 SrDNA amplicon pyrosequencing and whole-metagenome direct shotgun Illumina sequencing, microbial phylogeny and potential metabolic functions were catalogued for Chamliyal’s clay. Microbial diversity profile of the Chamliyal’s clay is similar to other medicinal clays, particularly Dead Sea; there is some uniqueness as well. Although Proteobacteria, Actinomycetes and Firmicutes are common inhabitants of all the clay types, sulphur- and iron-reducing bacteria like Deferribacterales are particular to clays used for skin healing. In the present study it is proposed that healing properties of clay may be due to the microbes and microbial genes associated with metabolism of minerals like iron and sulphur, that lead to mineral acquisition in the Chamliyal’s clay.


Clay Minerals Microbes Metagenomics Phylogeny Functional diversity 



Sakshi Sharma is grateful to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India for INSPIRE fellowship. Simmi Grewal is thankful to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) (Grant no. 38(1269)/10/EMR-II), Government of India for funding this project. Resources used in the Bioinformatics Centre funded by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India are also acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BiotechnologyUniversity of JammuJammuIndia

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