Saline and hypersaline environments are classified as wetlands and constitute the largest ecosystems on the planet (a half of inland aquatic ecosystems). They are widely distributed all over the continental zones (Africa, America, Europe, Australia, and Asia). African salt lakes are located in the arid northern and southern regions. Some of the African saline and hypersaline lakes are Natron, Chott Melghir, Chott El Jerid, Zahrez Chergui, and Guerbi. Microbial diversity within salt lakes is restricted to a few extremely salt-tolerant species. Certain microorganisms can thrive in salty and extreme environmental conditions. These microorganisms can be found over three domains (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya). The microbial biodiversity of African salt lakes is of great interest not only to have an overview of halophilic microorganisms flourishing in these extreme ecosystems but also for their potential applications in different fields. Extremophiles are a group of microorganisms with high biotechnological and industrial potential, especially for their ability to produce biopolymers, pigments, antibiotics, and enzymes. Most African salt lakes are unexploited; a few studies were published on microbial diversity which is an excellent opportunity for scientists to discover new genera and/or species and also new molecules of biotechnological interest. This chapter reviews African salt lake distribution and microbial diversity, with an emphasis on the northern part of Africa. An overview of microbial diversity which can contribute to the development of African countries is also provided by presenting a prominent investigation of the bioactive molecules from salt lakes with potential application in biotechnology.
Hafsa Yaiche Achour, Sid Ahmed Saadi, Chapter 18 - African salt lakes: distribution, microbial biodiversity, and biotechnological potential, Editor(s): Mostafa El-Sheekh, Hosam Easa Elsaied, Lakes of Africa, Elsevier, 2023, Pages 501-525, ISBN 9780323955270,