Although microorganisms, particularly oxygenic phototrophs, are known as the major players in the biogeochemical cycles of elements in desert soil ecosystems and have received extensive attention, still little is known about the effects of salinity on the composition and abundances of microbial community in desert soils. In this study, the diversity and abundance of bacteria and oxygenic phototrophs in biological desert crusts from Xinjiang province, which were under different salinity conditions, were investigated by using clone library and quantitative PCR (qPCR). The 16S rRNA gene phylogenetic analysis showed that cyanobacteria, mainly Microcoleus vagnitus of the order Oscillatoriales, were predominant in the low saline crusts, while other phototrophs, such as diatom, were the main microorganism group responsible for the oxygenic photosynthesis in the high saline crusts. Furthermore, the higher salt content in crusts may stimulate the growth of other bacteria, including Deinococcus-Thermus, Bacteroidetes, and some subdivisions of Proteobacteria (β-, γ-, and δ-Proteobacteria). The cpcBA-IGS gene analysis revealed the existence of novel M. vagnitus strains in this area. The qPCR results showed that the abundance of oxygenic phototrophs was significantly higher under lower saline condition than that in the higher saline crusts, suggesting that the higher salinity in desert crusts could suppress the numbers of total bacteria and phototrophic bacteria but did highly improve the diversity of salt-tolerant bacteria.