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Salinity shapes microbial diversity and community structure in surface sediments of the Qinghai-Tibetan Lakes

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Abstract

Investigating microbial response to environmental variables is of great importance for understanding of microbial acclimatization and evolution in natural environments. However, little is known about how microbial communities responded to environmental factors (e.g. salinity, geographic distance) in lake surface sediments of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). In this study, microbial diversity and community structure in the surface sediments of nine lakes on the QTP were investigated by using the Illumina Miseq sequencing technique and the resulting microbial data were statistically analyzed in combination with environmental variables. The results showed total microbial community of the studied lakes was significantly correlated (r = 0.631, P < 0.001) with lake salinity instead of geographic distance. This suggests that lake salinity is more important than geographic distance in shaping the microbial diversity and community structure in the studied samples. In addition, the abundant and rare taxa (OTUs with relative abundance higher than 1% and lower than 0.01% within one sample, respectively) were significantly (P < 0.05) correlated (r = 0.427 and 0.783, respectively) with salinity, suggesting rare taxa might be more sensitive to salinity than their abundant counterparts, thus cautions should be taken in future when evaluating microbial response (abundant vs. rare sub-communities) to environmental conditions.

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Yang, J., Ma, L., Jiang, H., Wu, G., & Dong, H. (2016). Salinity shapes microbial diversity and community structure in surface sediments of the Qinghai-Tibetan Lakes. Scientific Reports, 6. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep25078

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