Salinity is one of the strongest environmental drivers of microbial evolution and community composition. Here we aimed to determine the impact of salt concentrations (2.5, 7.5, and 33.2%) on the microbial community structure of reclaimed saltern ponds near San Francisco, California, and to discover prospective enzymes with potential biotechnological applications. Community compositions were determined by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealing both higher richness and evenness in the pond sediments compared to the water columns. Co-occurrence network analysis additionally uncovered the presence of microbial seed bank communities, potentially primed to respond to rapid changes in salinity. In addition, functional annotation of shotgun metagenomic DNA showed different capabilities if the microbial communities at different salinities for methanogenesis, amino acid metabolism, and carbohydrate-active enzymes. There was an overall shift with increasing salinity in the functional potential for starch degradation, and a decrease in degradation of cellulose and other oligosaccharides. Further, many carbohydrate-active enzymes identified have acidic isoelectric points that have potential biotechnological applications, including deconstruction of biofuel feedstocks under high ionic conditions. Metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of individual halotolerant and halophilic microbes were binned revealing a variety of carbohydrate-degrading potential of individual pond inhabitants.
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