Kalwasińska, A., Felföldi, T., Szabó, A., Deja-Sikora, E., Kosobucki, P., Walczak, M. 2017. Microbial communities associated with the anthropogenic, highly alkaline environment of a saline soda lime, Poland. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 110, 945-962.
Soda lime is a by-product of the Solvay soda process for the production of sodium carbonate from limestone and sodium chloride. Due to a high salt concentration and alkaline pH, the lime is considered as a potential habitat of haloalkaliphilic and haloalkalitolerant microbial communities. This artificial and unique environment is nutrient-poor and devoid of vegetation, due in part to semi-arid, saline and alkaline conditions. Samples taken from the surface layer of the lime and from the depth of 2 m (both having pH ~11 and ECe up to 423 dSm-1) were investigated using culture-based (culturing on alkaline medium) and culture-independent microbiological approaches (microscopic analyses and pyrosequencing). A
surprisingly diverse bacterial community was discovered in this highly saline, alkaline and nutrient-poor environment, with the bacterial phyla Proteobacteria (representing 52.8% of the total bacterial community) and Firmicutes (16.6%) showing dominance. Compared to the surface layer, higher bacterial abundance and diversity values were detected in the deep zone, where more stable environmental conditions may occur. The surface layer was dominated by members of the genera Phenylobacterium, Chelativorans and Skermanella, while in the interior layer the genus Fictibacillus was dominant. The culturable aerobic, haloalkaliphilic bacteria strains isolated in this study belonged mostly to the genus Bacillus and were closely related to the species Bacillus pseudofirmus, B. cereus, B. plakortidis, B. thuringensis and B. pumilus.
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