Bacterial Communities Associated with the Biofilms Formed in High-Altitude Brackish Water Pangong Tso Located in the Himalayan Plateau


Pangong Tso is a long and narrow lake situated at an altitude of ~ 4266 m amsl in the Himalayan Plateau on the side of the India/China border. Biofilm has been observed in a small area near the shore of Pangong Tso. Bacterial communities of the lake sediment, water and biofilms were studied using amplicon sequencing of V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. The standard QIIME pipeline was used for analysis. The metabolic potential of the community was predicted using functional prediction tool Tax4Fun. Bacterial phyla Proteobacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes, Acidobacteria, Planctomycetes, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes, were found to be dominant across these samples. Shannon’s and Simpson’s alpha diversity analysis revealed that sediment communities are the most diverse, and water communities are the least diverse. Principal Coordinates based beta diversity analysis showed significant variation in the bacterial communities of the water, sediment and biofilm samples. Bacterial phyla Verrucomicrobia, Deinococcus-Thermus and Cyanobacteria were explicitly enriched in the biofilm samples. Predictive functional profiling of these bacterial communities showed a higher abundance of genes involved in photosynthesis, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms and glyoxylate and dicarboxylate metabolism in the biofilm sample. In conclusion, the Pangong Tso bacterial communities are quite similar to other saline and low-temperature lakes in the Tibetan Plateau. Bacterial community structure of the biofilm samples was significantly different from that of the water and sediment samples and enrichment of saprophytic communities was observed in the biofilm samples, indicating an important succession event in this high-altitude lake.

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Data Availability

The sequence data is made available at NCBI SRA submission with Bioproject ID PRJNA496310 for the microbial mat, sediment and the water bacterial community.


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Authors acknowledge the Director, NCCS, Pune for extending necessary facilities for this study. The authors also acknowledge the financial support of the SERB-DST (YSS/2015/000149) and DBT (BT/Coor. II/01/03/2016).


The SERB-DST (YSS/2015/000149) and DBT (BT/Coord. II/01/03/2016) provided funds this research.

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PR designed the study and collected the samples. KJ and AS helped in the molecular work. DC performed the bioinformatics and statistical analyses. DD guided in the analysis. PR and DC drafted the manuscript. PR supervised the data analysis and revised the manuscript. YS analyzed physicochemical properties of the Pangong Lake water. All authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Praveen Rahi.

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Chaudhari, D.S., Dhotre, D.P., Jani, K. et al. Bacterial Communities Associated with the Biofilms Formed in High-Altitude Brackish Water Pangong Tso Located in the Himalayan Plateau. Curr Microbiol 77, 4072–4084 (2020).

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