Thoughts on the "missing link" between saltworks biology and solar salt quality

A. Oren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although solar salterns worldwide use seawater of identical chemical composition as the raw material for salt production, the size and quality of the halite crystals that precipitate in the crystallizer ponds is highly variable. Biological processes have been implicated to be responsible for the differences observed, but the "missing link" between saltworks biology and solar salt quality has never unequivocally been identified. This paper presents an overview of the different organic chemicals that are formed by the members of the microbial communities in saltern evaporation and crystallizer ponds as osmotic stabilizers as well as different compounds formed during further microbial metabolism of those osmotic solutes. Examination of the in situ concentrations and the possible role of glycerol, glycine betaine, ectoine, dihydroxyacetone, acetate, lactate, and other organic compounds failed to identify one or more compounds that may accumulate at concentrations high enough to significantly modify the formation of sodium chloride crystals in the salterns and to negatively influence the quality of the salt produced.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)417-425
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Nest Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Aphanothece
  • Crystallizer ponds
  • Dunaliella
  • Glycerol
  • Halite
  • Haloquadratum
  • Hypersaline
  • Osmotic solutes
  • Salinibacter
  • Salterns


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