Bacteria associated with Artemia spp. along the salinity gradient of the solar salterns at Eilat (Israel)


  • Editor: Patricia Sobecky

Correspondence: Nina Gunde-Cimerman, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Večna pot 111, SI-1111 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Tel.: +386 1 257 3388; fax: +386 1 257 3390; e-mail:


The crustacean genus Artemia naturally inhabits various saline and hypersaline environments and is the most frequently laboratory-hatched animal for live feed in mari- and aquaculture. Because of its high economic importance, Artemia–bacteria interactions were so far studied mostly in laboratory strains. In this study, we focused our attention on the Artemia-associated microbiota in its natural environment in the solar salterns of Eilat, Israel. We applied a culture-independent method (clone libraries) to investigate the bacterial community structure associated with Artemia in five evaporation ponds with salinities from slightly above seawater (5%) to the point of saturation (32%), in two different developmental stages: in nauplii and in the intestine of adult animals. Bacteria found in naupliar and adult stages were classified within the Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria. The halophilic proteobacterial genera Halomonas spp. and Salinivibrio spp. dominated the Artemia microbiota in both stages in all ponds. We also analysed a clone library of entire adult animals, revealing a novel bacterial phylogenetic lineage. This is the first molecular study of bacteria associated with two developmental stages of Artemia along a salinity gradient.