, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 747–757 | Cite as

Analysis of the bacteriorhodopsin-producing haloarchaea reveals a core community that is stable over time in the salt crystallizers of Eilat, Israel

Original Paper


Stability of microbial communities can impact the ability of dispersed cells to colonize a new habitat. Saturated brines and their halophile communities are presumed to be steady state systems due to limited environmental perturbations. In this study, the bacteriorhodopsin-containing fraction of the haloarchaeal community from Eilat salt crystallizer ponds was sampled five times over 3 years. Analyses revealed the existence of a constant core as several OTUs were found repeatedly over the length of the study: OTUs comprising 52 % of the total cloned and sequenced PCR amplicons were found in every sample, and OTUs comprising 89 % of the total sequences were found in more than one, and often more than two samples. LIBSHUFF and UNIFRAC analyses showed statistical similarity between samples and Spearman’s coefficient denoted significant correlations between OTU pairs, indicating non-random patterns in abundance and co-occurrence of detected OTUs. Further, changes in the detected OTUs were statistically linked to deviations in salinity. We interpret these results as indicating the existence of an ever-present core bacteriorhodopsin-containing Eilat crystallizer community that fluctuates in population densities, which are controlled by salinity rather than the extinction of some OTUs and their replacement through immigration and colonization.


Haloarchaea Temporal analysis Seasonal Community stability Thalassohaline Eilat 



The authors thank Salt of the Earth Eilat Ltd. for allowing access to the Eilat salterns; the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat for logistic support; the UConn Bioinformatics Facility for providing computing resources; and the reviewers for their invaluable comments. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (award numbers, DEB0919290 and DEB0830024), the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (Grant Number 2013061) and NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program Element (Grant Numbers NNX12AD70G and NNX15AM09G).

Supplementary material

792_2016_864_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (555 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 555 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikhil Ram-Mohan
    • 1
  • Aharon Oren
    • 2
  • R. Thane Papke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesThe Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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