Caves in Mizoram, Northeast India, are potential hotspot diversity regions due to the historical significance of the formation of the Indo-Burman plateau and also because of their unexplored and unknown diversity. High-throughput paired end Illumina sequencing of the V4 region of 16S rRNA was performed to study the bacterial community of three caves situated in Champhai district of Mizoram, Northeast India. A total of 10,643 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) (based on 97 % cutoff) comprising of 21 major and 21 candidate phyla with a sequencing depth of 1,140,013 were found in this study. The overall taxonomic profile obtained by the RDP classifier and Greengenes OTU database revealed high diversity within the bacterial communities. Communities were dominated by Planctomycetes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes, while members of Archaea were less varied and mostly comprising of Eukaryoarchea. Analysis revealed that Farpuk (CFP) cave sediment has low microbial diversity and is mainly dominated by Actinobacteria (80 % reads), whereas different bacterial communities were found in the caves of Murapuk (CMP) and Lamsialpuk (CLP). Analysis also revealed that a major portion of the identified OTUs was classified under rare biosphere. Importantly, all these caves recorded a high number of unclassified OTUs, which might represent new species. Further analysis with whole genome sequencing is needed to validate the unknown species as well as to determine their functional role.
Keywords: Bacterial diversity; Cave; Illumina sequencing; Indo-Burma plateau.