Characterization of Halophyte Rhizosphere Microbiomes at Great Salt Lake, Utah
The saline soils comprising the shoreline of Great Salt Lake, Utah (GSL) provide a unique habitat for both halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) and the microorganisms that inhabit their rhizosphere. While plant diversity has been well documented at GSL, little is known about the microbial diversity in the rhizosphere. Here we present preliminary data characterizing the halophyte rhizosphere microbiome at two GSL locations; the more saline North Arm near the artwork, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (SJ), and the less saline South Arm on Antelope Island (AI). The rhizosphere of several plants along the shoreline at both SJ and AI locations was sampled. For each sample, plants were identified, soil salinity was quantified, DNA was isolated, and microbial cultures were established on either MGM or TSA medium. Numerous unique isolates were observed on both media, indicating the presence of both halophiles and non-halophiles in the rhizosphere. Subsequent 16s rDNA sequencing substantiated this, identifying a combined total 58 species of Archaea and more than 1100 Bacterial species among all collected samples. Our data suggest differences in the composition of rhizosphere microbiomes depending on location, soil type and salinity, and plant species. Decreased diversity of both Archaeal and Bacterial species was observed in rhizospheres at SJ compared to AI. Interestingly, a corresponding increase in the representation of halophilic Archaea at SJ was observed, possibly linked to the much higher salt concentration in the North Arm. Our results provide insight into the halophyte rhizosphere microbiome and expand our current knowledge of halophyte-halophile relationships.