Spatial microbial community structure and biodiversity analysis in "extreme" hypersaline soils of a semiarid Mediterranean area

Giuseppe Lo Papa, Carmelo Dazzi, Giuseppe Bazan, Loredana Canfora, Livia Vittori Antisari, Anna Benedetti, Loredana Canfora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years specific attention has been paid on the biotechnological potential of microorganisms in extreme soils, in particular in saline soils. Salinity is one of the most widespread soil degradation processes on the Earth, and saline soils can be defined as extreme soils or border line habitats in which several factors, as high salt content, may limit the growth of organisms. In this study, the physical, chemical and microbiological soil properties were investigated in the shallower horizon of natural salt-affected soils in Sicily (Italy). The main aim of the research was to evaluate the structure and diversity of bacterial and archaeal communities by terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) according to arbitrary different classes of vegetation and salt crust cover in soils. Furthermore, the structure of microbial communities was assessed considering the heterogeneity of physical-chemical properties of the habitat under investigation, as a function of vegetation, crust cover, and salinity classes. The results provided information on the type of distribution of different microbial community composition and diversity as a function of both vegetation and crust cover as well as salinity classes. In particular, the archaeal community showed a richness and diversity significantly affected by the spatial gradients of soil salinity, conversely, the bacterial one showed a decreasing trend with increasing gradient of soil salinity. The T-RFLP cluster analysis showed the formation of two groups for both bacterial and archaeal community, significantly (. p<. 0.05) influenced by sand and silt content, electrical conductivity (EC. <inf>e</inf>), vegetation cover percentage, salt crust and for by texture composition. In particular, the discriminant analysis obtained for the different salt crust classes for archaeal community stressed the membership of one of the two clusters to the class with the lower salt crust percentage (0-40%).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science

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