Microorganisms are globally distributed but new evidence shows that the microbial structure of their communities can vary due to geographical location and environmental parameters. In this study, 50 samples including brines and sediments from Europe, Spanish-Atlantic and South America were analysed by applying the operational phylogenetic unit (OPU) approach in order to understand whether microbial community structures in hypersaline environments exhibited biogeographical patterns. The fine-tuned identification of approximately 1000 OPUs (almost equivalent to “species”) using multivariate analysis revealed regionally distinct taxa compositions. This segregation was more diffuse at the genus level and pointed to a phylogenetic and metabolic redundancy at the higher taxa level, where their different species acquired distinct advantages related to the regional physicochemical idiosyncrasies. The presence of previously undescribed groups was also shown in these environments, such as Parcubacteria, or members of Nanohaloarchaeota in anaerobic hypersaline sediments. Finally, an important OPU overlap was observed between anoxic sediments and their overlaying brines, indicating versatile metabolism for the pelagic organisms.
- Hypersaline sediments
- Operational phylogenetic units