Background: Salt pond restoration aims to recover the environmental damages that accumulated over the long history of salt production. Of the restoration strategies, phytoremediation that utilizes salt-tolerant plants and soil microorganisms to reduce the salt concentrations is believed to be environmentally-friendly. However, little is known about the change of bacterial community during salt pond restoration in the context of phytoremediation. In the present study, we used 16S metagenomics to compare seasonal changes of bacterial communities between the revegetated and barren salterns at Sicao, Taiwan. Results: In both saltern types, Proteobacteria, Planctomycetes, Chloroflexi, and Bacteroidetes were predominant at the phylum level. In the revegetated salterns, the soil microbiomes displayed high species diversities and underwent a stepwise transition across seasons. In the barren salterns, the soil microbiomes fluctuated greatly, indicating that mangroves tended to stabilize the soil microorganism communities over the succession. Bacteria in the order Halanaerobiaceae and archaea in the family Halobacteriaceae that were adapted to high salinity exclusively occurred in the barren salterns. Among the 441 persistent operational taxonomic units detected in the revegetated salterns, 387 (87.5%) were present as transient species in the barren salterns. Only 32 persistent bacteria were exclusively detected in the revegetated salterns. Possibly, salt-tolerant plants provided shelters for those new colonizers. Conclusions: The collective data indicate that revegetation tended to stabilize the microbiome across seasons and enriched the microbial diversity in the salterns, especially species of Planctomycetes and Acidobacteria.
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