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Article

Microenvironmental Conditions Drive the Differential Cyanobacterial Community Composition of Biocrusts from the Sahara Desert

1
Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
2
Laboratory of Biogeochemistry of Desert Areas, University of Ouargla, 30000 Ouargla, Algeria
3
Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Life and Natural Sciences, University of El Oued, 39000 El Oued, Algeria
4
Laboratory of Saharan Bio-Resources: Preservation and Development, University of Ouargla, 30000 Ouargla, Algeria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pedro M. Santos
Microorganisms 2021, 9(3), 487; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9030487
Received: 22 January 2021 / Revised: 11 February 2021 / Accepted: 16 February 2021 / Published: 25 February 2021
The Sahara Desert is characterized by extreme environmental conditions, which are a unique challenge for life. Cyanobacteria are key players in the colonization of bare soils and form assemblages with other microorganisms in the top millimetres, establishing biological soil crusts (biocrusts) that cover most soil surfaces in deserts, which have important roles in the functioning of drylands. However, knowledge of biocrusts from these extreme environments is limited. Therefore, to study cyanobacterial community composition in biocrusts from the Sahara Desert, we utilized a combination of methodologies in which taxonomic assignation, for next-generation sequencing of soil samples, was based on phylogenetic analysis (16S rRNA gene) in parallel with morphological identification of cyanobacteria in natural samples and isolates from certain locations. Two close locations that differed in microenvironmental conditions were analysed. One was a dry salt lake (a “chott”), and the other was an extension of sandy, slightly saline soil. Differences in cyanobacterial composition between the sites were found, with a clear dominance of Microcoleus spp. in the less saline site, while the chott presented a high abundance of heterocystous cyanobacteria as well as the filamentous non-heterocystous Pseudophormidium sp. and the unicellular cf. Acaryochloris. The cyanobacteria found in our study area, such as Microcoleus steenstrupii, Microcoleus vaginatus, Scytonema hyalinum, Tolypothrix distorta, and Calothrix sp., are also widely distributed in other geographic locations around the world, where the conditions are less severe. Our results, therefore, indicated that some cyanobacteria can cope with polyextreme conditions, as confirmed by bioassays, and can be considered extremotolerant, being able to live in a wide range of conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocrust; cyanobacteria; Sahara Desert; polyextreme conditions; hyperarid deserts biocrust; cyanobacteria; Sahara Desert; polyextreme conditions; hyperarid deserts
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mehda, S.; Muñoz-Martín, M.Á.; Oustani, M.; Hamdi-Aïssa, B.; Perona, E.; Mateo, P. Microenvironmental Conditions Drive the Differential Cyanobacterial Community Composition of Biocrusts from the Sahara Desert. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 487. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9030487

AMA Style

Mehda S, Muñoz-Martín MÁ, Oustani M, Hamdi-Aïssa B, Perona E, Mateo P. Microenvironmental Conditions Drive the Differential Cyanobacterial Community Composition of Biocrusts from the Sahara Desert. Microorganisms. 2021; 9(3):487. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9030487

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mehda, Smail, Maria Á. Muñoz-Martín, Mabrouka Oustani, Baelhadj Hamdi-Aïssa, Elvira Perona, and Pilar Mateo. 2021. "Microenvironmental Conditions Drive the Differential Cyanobacterial Community Composition of Biocrusts from the Sahara Desert" Microorganisms 9, no. 3: 487. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9030487

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