Prior research on the microorganisms associated with the brine shrimp, Artemia franciscana, has mainly been limited to culture-based identification techniques or feeding studies for aquaculture. Our objective was to identify bacteria and archaea associated with Artemia adults and encysted embryos to understand the role of microbes in the Artemia life cycle and, therefore, their importance in a hypersaline food chain.
We used small subunit (SSU) 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to identify bacteria and archaea associated with adults and encysted Artemia embryos from one of their natural environments – Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah, USA. We found that bacterial sequences most closely related to the genera Halomonas and Vibrio were commonly extracted from GSL adult Artemia, while bacterial sequences most similar to the genera Halomonas, Psychroflexus and Alkalilimnicola dominate in GSL water. Encysted embryos (cysts) yielded bacterial sequences from the genera Idiomarina and Salinivibrio, which were absent from adults and water. Common archaeal sequences in adults were most closely related to the genera Haloterrigena and Haloarcula, while all of the archaeal sequences from GSL water were most similar to the genus Halogeometricum. Cyst derived archaeal sequences were most closely related to the genera Halorubrum and Haloarcula.
In addition to identifying microbial rRNA sequences that are specific to different stages of the Artemia life cycle, we observed striking differences in the sequences associated with the adult Artemia population in samples collected from GSL at different times and locations. While our study was limited in scope and the sample was small, our findings provide a foundation for future research into how the bacteria and archaea associated with Artemia influence the Artemia life cycle, and GSL food web.