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Diversity of rare and abundant bacteria in surface waters of the Southern Adriatic Sea

April 29, 2014

Bacteria are fundamental players in the functioning of the ocean, yet relatively little is known about the diversity of bacterioplankton assemblages and the factors shaping their spatial distribution. We investigated the diversity and community composition of bacterioplankton in surface waters of the Southern Adriatic sub-basin (SAd) in the Mediterranean Sea, across an environmental gradient from coastal to offshore stations.

Bacterioplankton diversity was investigated using a whole-assemblage genetic fingerprinting technique (Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis, ARISA) coupled with 16S rDNA amplicon pyrosequencing. The main physico-chemical variables showed clear differences between coastal and offshore stations, with the latter displaying generally higher temperature, salinity and oxygen content. Bacterioplankton richness was higher in coastal than offshore waters. Bacterial community composition (BCC) differed significantly between coastal and offshore waters, and appeared to be influenced by temperature (explaining up to 30% of variance) and by the trophic state. Pyrosequencing evidenced dominance of Alphaproteobacteria (SAR11 cluster), uncultured Gammaproteobacteria(Rhodobacteraceae) and Cyanobacteria (Synechococcus). Members of the Bacteroidetes phylum were also abundant, and accounted for 25% in the station characterized by the higher organic carbon availability. Bacterioplankton assemblages included a few dominant taxa and a very large proportion (85%) of rare (< 0.1%) bacteria, the vast majority of which was unique to each sampling station. The first detailed census of bacterioplankton taxa in the SAd sub-basin, performed using next generation sequencing, indicates that assemblages are highly heterogeneous, spatially structured according to the environmental conditions, and comprise a large number of rare taxa. The high turnover diversity, particularly evident at the level of the rare taxa, suggests to direct future investigations toward larger spatial or temporal scales, to better understand the role of bacterioplankton in the ecosystem functioning and the biogeochemistry of the basin.

Quero GM, Luna GM, in press: Diversity of rare and abundant bacteria in surface waters of the Southern Adriatic Sea, Marine Genomics, doi:10.1016/j.margen.2014.04.002. Article (subscription required).


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