Skip to main content


Log in

Microbial processes and factors controlling their activities in alkaline lakes of the Mongolian plateau

  • Published:
Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 January 2016


A striking feature of the Mongolian plateau is the wide range of air temperatures during a year, -30 to 30°C. High summer temperatures, atmospheric weathering and the arid climate lead to formation of numerous alkaline soda lakes that are covered by ice during 6–7 months per year. During the study period, the lakes had pH values between 8.1 to 10.4 and salinity between 1.8 and 360 g/L. According to chemical composition, the lakes belong to sodium carbonate, sodium chloride-carbonate and sodium sulfate-carbonate types. This paper presents the data on the water chemical composition, results of the determination of the rates of microbial processes in microbial mats and sediments in the lakes studied, and the results of a Principal Component Analysis of environmental variables and microbial activity data. Temperature was the most important factor that influenced both chemical composition and microbial activity. pH and salinity are also important factors for the microbial processes. Dark CO2 fixation is impacted mostly by salinity and the chemical composition of the lake water. Total photosynthesis and sulfate-reduction are impacted mostly by pH. Photosynthesis is the dominant process of primary production, but the highest rate (386 mg C/(L∙d)) determined in the lakes studied were 2–3 times lower than in microbial mats of lakes located in tropical zones. This can be explained by the relatively short warm period that lasts only 3–4 months per year. The highest measured rate of dark CO2 assimilation (59.8 mg C/(L∙d)) was much lower than photosynthesis. The highest rate of sulfate reduction was 60 mg S/(L∙d), while that of methanogenesis was 75.6 μL СН4/(L∙d) in the alkaline lakes of Mongolian plateau. The rate of organic matter consumption during sulfate reduction was 3–4 orders of magnitude higher than that associated with methanogenesis.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Arinushkina E V. 1970). Handbook on Chemical Analysis of Soil. Moscow State University, Moscow. 482p. (in Russian)

  • Belyaev S S, Lein A Yu, Ivanov M V. 1981. The role of methanogenic and sulfate-reducing bacteria in the processes of destruction of organic matter. Geokhimiya, (3): 437–445.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boros E, Horváth Z, Wolfram G, Vörös L. 2014. Salinity and ionic composition of the shallow astatic soda pans in the Carpathian Basin. Ann. Limnol.–Int. J. Lim., 50 (1):59–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Capone D G, Kiene R P. 1988. Comparison of microbial dynamics in marine and freshwater sediments: contrasts in anaerobic carbon catabolism. Limnol. Oceanogr., 33: 725–749.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christner B C, Priscu J C, Achberger A M, Barbante C, Carter S P, Christianson K, Michaud A B, Mikucki J A, Mitchell A C, Skidmore M L, Vick-Majors T J, the WISSARD Science Team. 2014. A microbial ecosystem beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet. Nature, 512 (7514): 310–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Council T C, Bennett P C. 1993. Geochemistry of ikaite formation at Mono Lake, California: implications for the origin of tufa mounds. Geology, 21 (11): 971–974.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Geladi P. 1989. Analysis of multi-way (multi-mode) data. Chemom. Intell. Lab. Syst., 7 (1-2): 11–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glein C R, Baross J A, Hunter Waite J Jr. 2015. The pH of Enceladus’ ocean. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 162:202–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gorlenko V M, Buruykhaev S P, Matyugina E B, Borzenko S V, Namsaraev Z B, Bryantseva I A, Boldareva E N, Sorokin D Yu, Namsaraev B B. 2010. Major features of microbial communities of meromictic soda lake Doroninskoye (Transbaikalian area) ecosystem. Microbiology, 79 (3): 410–421.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gorlenko V M, Namsaraev B B, Kulyrova A V, Zavarzina D G, Zhilina T N. 1999. The activity of sulfate-reducing bacteria in bottom sediments of soda lakes of the southeastern Transbaikal region. Microbiology, 68 (5): 580–585.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grant W D. 2004. Introductory chapter: half a lifetime in soda lakes. In: Ventosa A ed. Halophilic Microorganisms. Springer, Heidelberg. p.17–31.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Hsu H W, Postberg F, Sekine Y, Shibuya T, Kempf S, Horányi M, Juhás A, Altobelli N, Suzuki K, Masaki Y, Kuwatani T, Tachibana S, Sirono S I, Moragas-Klostermeyer G, Srama R. 2015. Ongoing hydrothermal activities within Enceladus. Nature, 519 (7542): 207–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ilin A, Raiko T. 2010. Practical approaches to principal component analysis in the presence of missing values. J. Mach. Learn. Res., 11: 1957–2000.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kharaka Y K, Robinson S W, Law L M, Carothers W W. 1984. Hydrogeochemistry of Big Soda Lake, Nevada: an alkaline meromictic desert lake. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 48 (4): 823–835.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Krumbein W E, Cohen Y, Shilo M. 1977. Solar Lake (Sinai). 4. Stromatolitic cyanobacterial mats. Limnol. Oceanogr., 22 (4): 635–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ma Y H, Zhang W Z, Xue Y F, Zhou P J, Ventosa A, Grant W D. 2004. Bacterial diversity of the Inner Mongolian Baer Soda Lake as revealed by 16S rRNA gene sequence analyses. Extremophiles, 8 (1): 45–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacIntyre S, Melack J M. 1982. Meromixis in an equatorial African soda lake. Limnol. Oceanogr., 27 (4): 595–609.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Medová H, Boldareva E N, Hrouzek P, Borzenko S V, Namsaraev Z B, Gorlenko V M, Namsaraev B B, Koblížek M. 2011. High abundances of aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs in saline steppe lakes. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol., 76 (2): 393–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Melack J M, Kilham P. 1974. Photosynthetic rates of phytoplankton in East African alkaline, saline Lakes. Limnol. Oceanogr., 19 (5): 743–755.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Namsaraev B B, Dulov L E, Sokolova E N, Zemskaya T I. 1995. Bacterial methane production in the bottom sediments of Lake Baikal. Microbiology, 64 (3):411–417.

    Google Scholar 

  • Namsaraev B B, Zhilina T N, Kulyrova A V, Gorlenko V M. 1999. Bacterial methanogenesis in soda lakes of the southeastern Transbaikal region. Microbiology, 68 (5): 586–591.

    Google Scholar 

  • Namsaraev B B. 1993. Distribution of methanogens in marine sediments. Microbiology, 62: 733–738.

    Google Scholar 

  • Namsaraev Z B, Gorlenko V M, Buryukhaev S P, Barkhutova D D, Dambaev V B, Dulov L E, Sorokin V V, Namsaraev B B. 2010. Water regime and changes of hydrochemical parameters of alkaline saline lake Khilganta (South- Eastern Transbaikalia). Water Res., 37 (4): 477–483.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oren A, Naftz D L, Palacios P, Wurtsbaugh W A. 2009. Saline lakes around the world: unique systems with unique values. In: 10th ISSLR Conference and 2008 FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Forum. Utah State University, Salt Lake City. 269p.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sorokin D Y, Gorlenko V M, Namsaraev B B, Namsaraev Z B, Lysenko A M, Eshinimaev B T, Khmelenina V N, Trotsenko Y A, Kuenen J G. 2004. Prokaryotic communities of the north-eastern Mongolian soda lakes. Hydrobiologia, 522 (1-3): 235–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorokin Y I. 1999). Radioisotopic Methods in Hydrobiology. Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg. 321p.

  • Trutko S M, Evtushenko L I, Dorofeeva L V, Shlyapnikov M G, Gavrish E Yu, Suzina N E, Akimenko V K. 2003. Microbial processes of cycles C and S in Lake Shira (Khakasia). Microbiology, 72 (3): 259–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tsyrenova D D, Bryanskaya A V, Kozyreva L P, Namsaraev Z B, Namsaraev B B. 2011. Structure and formation properties of the haloalkaliphilic community of Lake Khilganta. Microbiology, 80 (2): 237–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zaitseva S V, Abidueva E Yu, Namsaraev B B, Wang L, Wu L. 2014. Microbial community of the bottom sediments of the brackish lake Beloe (Transbaikal Region). Microbiology, 83 (6): 861–868.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zaitseva S V, Abidueva E Yu, Buryukhaev S P, Namsaraev B B. 2012. Factors controlling the activity of the microbial community of the alkaline Lake Beloe (Transbaikal region). Microbiology, 81 (4): 468–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zavarzin G A, Zhilina T N, Kevbrin V V. 1999. The alkaliphilic microbial community and its functional diversity. Microbiology, 68: 503–521.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zeikus J G, Winfrey M R. 1976. Temperature limitation of methanogenesis in aquatic sediments. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 31 (1): 99–107.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zolotov M Y. 2007. An oceanic composition on early and today’s Enceladus. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34 (23): L23203.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zorigto B. Namsaraev.

Additional information

Supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (No. 1990), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (No. 13-04-00646), and the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences Program No. 28 “Biosphere Origin and Evolution”

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Namsaraev, Z.B., Zaitseva, S.V., Gorlenko, V.M. et al. Microbial processes and factors controlling their activities in alkaline lakes of the Mongolian plateau. Chin. J. Ocean. Limnol. 33, 1391–1401 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: