Recovery of the benthic bacterial community in coastal abandoned saltern requires over 35 years: A comparative case study in the Yellow Sea

Hanbyul Lee, Young Mok Heo, Sun Lul Kwon, Yeonjae Yoo, Aslan Hwanhwi Lee, Bong Oh Kwon, Gyu Hyeok Kim, Jong Seong Khim, Jae Jin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Salt is an essential nutrient for humans, and salterns exist worldwide. Although the construction of salterns has stopped and typical salterns are now mostly abandoned, there has been no research on the ecological recovery of the abandoned salterns. Here, we analyzed the bacterial diversity and community structure in three pairs of abandoned salterns that have undergone 1–35 years of natural restoration and tidal flats to determine the recovery time and process. Partial 16S rRNA sequences were amplified and sequenced to investigate the biodiversity and structure of the bacterial community in sediments collected from abandoned salterns and adjacent natural tidal flats (viz., controls) in the Yellow Sea. The most abundant microorganisms across locations were found to be members of Proteobacteria, ranging from 45 to 72%, which was also a crucial taxon in the bacterial recovery process. The benthic bacterial community of the salterns showed time-dependent recovery, as demonstrated by the similarity between the salterns and controls. Indeed, dissimilarities between bacterial communities were significant for the saltern that had been abandoned for one year, according to ANOSIM (R = 1.0, p < 0.01). The genera that were determined to contribute to the dissimilarity exhibited a significant correlation with the sedimentary phosphorus concentration. The dataset generally supported that the indigenous benthic bacterial community in an altered marine environment might require a considerable time to return to a natural status. Meanwhile, a delay between the recovery of the physicochemical environment and biological component was evidenced, which seemed to influence the recovery time in a site-specific manner. Overall, the present study provided new insight and understanding of the recovery of the benthic bacterial community in abandoned salterns in terms of recovery time and the associated process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105412
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb


  • Bacterial community
  • Biodiversity
  • Recovery
  • Saltern
  • Sediment assessment
  • Tidal flat ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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