The relationship of organisms to their environment is revealed by decoding genomes of organisms living in extreme environments. These genomes disclose new biological mechanisms that enable life outside moderate environmental conditions, new gene functions for application in biotechnology, and may even result in identification of new species. In this study, we have collected aquatic samples from two sites in the Danakil depression, the coastal parts of Lake As’ale and an active salt diapir pond (Muda’ara pond), to identify the microbial community by metagenomics. Shotgun sequencing was applied to high density sampling, and the relative abundance of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) was calculated. In each sample site, Archaea accounted for 95% of the total OTUs, largely to the class Halobacteria. Lake As’ale and the Muda’ara Pond showed similarity in taxonomical structure where Halonotius sp J07HN6 and unclassified Halobacterium from the families Halorubraceae and Halobacteriaceae, respectively, were two of the highly abundant and shared OTUs. The remaining 5% of organisms were eubacteria, with unclassified Strain of Salinibacter ruber as the dominant OTU in both the Lake and the Pond. Considering the extremity of the environmental conditions of the Danakil depression, this metagenomics dataset can be a starting point for studying unique gene functions that enable thriving bio-communities in hypersaline and moderately acidic conditions.
Keywords: metagenomics, hypersaline, Danakil Depression, microbial diversity