Fungal Diversity in the extreme environment of Four Kenyan Soda Lakes

Fungal diversity in extreme environments such as soda lakes remains greatly under explored. Prof Romano Mwirichia, a researcher from the Department of Biological Sciences in the University of Embu had been studying the microbial diversity of soda lakes ecosystems for the last decade.

In a new study on the fungal diversity across several soda lakes in Kenya and published in Scientifica, 107 genera affiliated to the phyla Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Glomeromycota, and other unclassified groups referred to as Incertae sedis were identified across the soda lakes Magadi, Elmenteita, Sonachi, and Bogoria in Kenya. Results show that the genus Chaetomium, Monodictys, Arthrinium, Cladosporium, Fusarium, Myrothecium, Phyllosticta, Coniochaeta, Diatrype, Sarocladium Sclerotinia, Aspergillus, Preussia and Eutypa were the most abundant groups accounting for 65.3% of all the sequence reads. The findings provide useful insights that can guide cultivation-dependent studies to understand the physiology and biochemistry of the as-yet uncultured taxa.

The author was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung under the Georg Foster Fellowship Program. The findings have been published in Scietifica (Hindawi) under the title “Amplicon-Based Analysis of the Fungal Diversity across Four Kenyan Soda Lakes” (

Other papers on the same ecosystem are:

  1. Kipnyargis, A., Mwirichia, R., Pfeiffer, B. and Daniel, R., 2022. Complete Genome Sequence of Alkalihalobacillus sp. Strain LMS39, a Haloalkaliphilic Bacterium Isolated from a Hypersaline Lake. Microbiology Resource Announcements, 11(7), pp.e00325-22.
  2. Orwa, P., Mugambi, G., Wekesa, V. and Mwirichia, R., 2020. Isolation of haloalkaliphilic fungi from Lake Magadi in Kenya. Heliyon, 6(1), p.e02823.
  3. Eunice, M., Remmy, K., Romano, M., Anne-Kelly, K. and Christabel, M., 2020. Isolation and characterization of haloalkaliphilic bacteria from the hot springs of Lake Magadi. African Journal of Microbiology Research, 14(7), pp.294-302.
  4. Kihagi Ngetha, E., 2020. Bioprospecting for Cyanophages with Biocontrol Potential against Toxin Producing Cyanobacteria in Lake Magadi, Kenya (Doctoral dissertation, University of Embu).
  5. Kiplimo, D., Mugweru, J., Kituyi, S., Kipnyargis, A. and Mwirichia, R., 2019. Diversity of esterase and lipase producing haloalkaliphilic bacteria from Lake Magadi in Kenya. Journal of Basic Microbiology, 59(12), pp.1173-1184.