Life in extreme environments: Microbial diversity in Great Salt Lake, Utah

Loubna Rothenburg, Donald P. Breakwell, Alan R. Harker, Keith A. Crandall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Great Salt Lake (GSL) represents one of the world's most hypersaline environments. In this study, the archaeal and bacterial communities at the North and South arms of the lake were surveyed by cloning and sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. The sampling locations were chosen for high salt concentration and the presence of unique environmental gradients, such as petroleum seeps and high sulfur content. Molecular techniques have not been systematically applied to this extreme environment, and thus the composition and the genetic diversity of microbial communities at GSL remain mostly unknown. This study led to the identification of 58 archaeal and 42 bacterial operational taxonomic units. Our phylogenetic and statistical analyses displayed a high biodiversity of the microbial communities in this environment. In this survey, we also showed that the majority of the 16S rRNA gene sequences within the clone library were distantly related to previously described environmental halophilic archaeal and bacterial taxa and represent novel phylotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-535
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA
  • Archaea
  • Bacteria
  • Biodiversity
  • GSL
  • Halophiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Medicine


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