Organotrophic and Mixotrofic Sulfur Oxidation in an Acidic Salt Flat in Northern Chile
To understand the microbial community inhabiting in an acidic salt flat the phylogenetic diversity and the geochemistry of this system was compared to acid mine drainage (AMD) systems. The microbial community structure was assessed by DNA extraction/PCR/DGGE and secuencing for the 16S rRNA gene and the geochemistry was analyzed using several approaches. Prediction of metagenome functional content was performed from the 16S rRNA gene survey using the bioinformatics software package Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt). The geochemical results revealed a much lower iron concentration in the salt flat than in AMD systems (39 and 21804 mg L-1, respectively) and a significant difference in chloride levels. Sequences inferred to be from potential sulfur metabolizing organisms constituted up to 70% of the microbial community in the acidic salt flat meanwhile predominat iron-metabolizing acidophile populations were reported in AMD systems. Interestingly, the microbial assemblage in the acidic salt flat was dominated by mixotrophic and organotrophic sulfur oxidizers as well as by photoautotrophic acidophiles. Our results suggests that the salt concentration in Salar de Gorbea (average Cl-= 40 gL-1) is in the limit for the occurrence of chemolithotrophic oxidation of sulfur compounds. In addition, the investigation allows concluding that salinity rather than extremes of pH is the major environmental determinant of microbial community composition.
M. Zaki Mubarok, Siti Khodijah Chaerun, Wahyudin Prawira Minwal, Fadhli Muhammad and Killang Pratama
L. Escudero et al., "Organotrophic and Mixotrofic Sulfur Oxidation in an Acidic Salt Flat in Northern Chile", Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 1130, pp. 63-66, 2015