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Abundance and biomass of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms coupled with environmental factors in an arid multi-pond solar saltern (Sfax, Tunisia)

  • Jannet Elloumi (a1), Wassim Guermazi (a1), Habib Ayadi (a1), Abderrahmen Bouain (a1) and Lotfi Aleya (a2)...


The distribution of abundance and biomass of prokaryotes, flagellates, ciliates and phytoplankton, were studied in five ponds of increasing salinity in the Sfax solar saltern (Tunisia) coupled with environmental factors. The results showed that abundance of eukaryotic microorganisms decreased with increasing salinity of the ponds whereas prokaryotes (heterotrophic bacteria and Archaea) were abundant in the hyper-saline ponds. Phototrophic picoplankton was found in a large range of salinity values (70 and 200‰). Phototrophic non-flagellated nanoplankton which dominated in the first sampled pond was substituted by phototrophic flagellated nanoplankton in the other ponds. Heterotrophic nanoplankton dominated in the crystallizer pond but its quantitative importance declined in the less saline ponds. Diatoms and dinoflagellates were the major contributors to phytoplankton abundance in the first ponds (>90% of total abundance). Ciliated protozoa were found in all the ponds except in the crystallizer in which prokaryotes proliferated. Oligotrichida and Heterotrichida were the most abundant ciliate groups. Overall, species richness decreased with salinity gradient. We propose a simplified diagram of the Sfax saltern's food web showing the dominant role of the microbial loop along the salinity gradient.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Lotfi Aleya, Université de Franche-Comté, Laboratoire de Chrono-Environnement, UMR CNRS 6249 1, Place Leclerc, 25030 Besançon cedex, France email:


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Abundance and biomass of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms coupled with environmental factors in an arid multi-pond solar saltern (Sfax, Tunisia)

  • Jannet Elloumi (a1), Wassim Guermazi (a1), Habib Ayadi (a1), Abderrahmen Bouain (a1) and Lotfi Aleya (a2)...


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