Actinobacterial and archaeal diversity in lake Magadi, Kenya
Halimat, Olubukola Ibrahim
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Microorganisms of the class Actinobacteria and domain Archaea are interesting from a biotechnological perspective owing to their metabolic attributes as producers of secondary metabolites and resilience under harsh environmental conditions respectively. Lake Magadi is a soda lake well studied in terms of its geology and limnology. Research attention has also been drawn to the microbial populations which thrive in this unique habitat but currently there are no reports on the assessment of its microflora using molecular methods. This study aimed to assess the actinobacterial and archaeal communities within Lake Magadi, Kenya a hypersaline –highly alkaline habitat using metagenomic methods as a preliminary study to identify potential candidates for exploitative biology Samples from two sites dubbed Lake Magadi station 2 (LM2) and Lake Magadi salt pan 4 (LMS4) within the Lake Magadi were analyzed using the 16S rRNA gene as a phylogenetic marker. Cluster analysis of taxon-specific 16S rDNA PCR-DGGE profiles revealed moderately heterogeneous actinobacterial and archaeal populations across the sample sites under investigation which is probably a reflection of the differences in abiotic conditions at the study sites. This observation was also confirmed from the multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) plot. PCR-based clonal libraries of actinobacterial and archaeal communities of both study sites retrieved a total of thirty-two clones (twenty actinobacterial and twelve archaeal) were sequenced. Analysis of the sequences revealed cultured and uncultured signatures of microorganisms typical of hypersaline and or highly alkaline niches. A few (3) sequences presented novelty (<96%) in identities with any previously identified organism. It was concluded that the species dominance at site LMS4 [situated within the salt flats of Lake Magadi and site for exploration of trona and its mineralized extensions (nacholite and gayllusite)] is likely to be dictated by anthropogenic stress since most of the microbial signals associated with the study site are typical of saline and or alkaline environmental samples exposed to especially mining but also agricultural and waste management practices. Isolation studies also revealed previously identified strains peculiar to hypersaline brines and sediments. The strains retrieved were affiliated to the taxonomically diverse genus Bacillus and Halomonas sp. The true applications and potential opportunities these isolates have for biotechnology have been well documented. Observations made from the culture dependent and culture independent methods suggests strongly that study site LMS4 is subjected to environmental conditions more severe than at site LM2. This study is a guide for future studies as it provides primary information on the haloalkaliphilic representatives of the actinobacteria phylum and domain Archaea within the soda lake environment. It can serve as a pedestal for investigation into the molecular machinery that supports the haloalkaliphilic lifestyles of inhabiting microorganisms and consequently give leads as to how they can be commercially exploited.