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Spatio-temporal interdependence of bacteria and phytoplankton during a Baltic Sea spring bloom

Journal article
Authors Carina Bunse
Mireia Bertos-Fortis
Ingrid Sassenhagen
Sirje Sildever
Conny Sjöqvist
Anna Godhe
Susanna Gross
Anke Kremp
Inga Lips
Nina Lundholm
Karin Rengefors
Josefin Sefbom
Jarone Pinhassi
Catherine Legrand
Published in Frontiers in Microbiology
Volume 7
ISSN 1664-302X
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of marine sciences
Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00517
Keywords Phytoplankton,16S rRNA,bacterioplankton,marine bacteria,Spatio-temporal patterns,Baltic Sea,spring bloom,Skeletonema marinoi
Subject categories Marine ecology, Biological Sciences


In temperate systems, phytoplankton spring blooms deplete inorganic nutrients and are major sources of organic matter for the microbial loop. In response to phytoplankton exudates and environmental factors, heterotrophic microbial communities are highly dynamic and change their abundance and composition both on spatial and temporal scales. Yet, most of our understanding about these processes comes from laboratory model organism studies, mesocosm experiments or single temporal transects. Spatial-temporal studies examining interactions of phytoplankton blooms and bacterioplankton community composition and function, though being highly informative, are scarce. In this study, pelagic microbial community dynamics (bacteria and phytoplankton) and environmental variables were monitored during a spring bloom across the Baltic Proper (two cruises between North Germany to Gulf of Finland). To test to what extent bacterioplankton community composition relates to the spring bloom, we used next generation amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, phytoplankton diversity analysis based on microscopy counts and population genotyping of the dominating diatom Skeletonema marinoi. Several phytoplankton bloom related and environmental variables were identified to influence bacterial community composition. Members of Bacteroidetes and Alphaproteobacteria dominated the bacterial community composition but the bacterial groups showed no apparent correlation with direct bloom related variables. The less abundant bacterial phyla Actinobacteria, Planctomycetes, and Verrucomicrobia, on the other hand, were strongly associated with phytoplankton biomass, diatom:dinoflagellate ratio and colored dissolved organic matter (cDOM). Many bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) showed high niche specificities. For example, particular Bacteroidetes OTUs were associated with two distinct genetic clusters of S. marinoi. Our study revealed the complexity of interactions of bacterial taxa with inter- and intraspecific genetic variation in phytoplankton. Overall, our findings imply that biotic and abiotic factors during spring bloom influence bacterial community dynamics in a hierarchical manner.

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