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Response of a coastal tropical pelagic microbial community to changed salinity and temperature

Journal article
Authors Gurpreet Kaur-Kahlon
S Kumar
A-S Rehnstam-Holm
A Rai
S Bhavya
L Edler
Arvind Singh
Björn Andersson
I Karunasagar
R Rengaswamy
Anna Godhe
Published in Aquatic Microbial Ecology
Volume 77
Issue 1
Pages 37-50
ISSN 0948-3055
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 37-50
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.3354/ame01785
Keywords Phytoplankton, Bacteria, Climate change, Temperature, Salinity, Structural equation modeling, Tropical microbial community
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Marine ecology


Studies on the responses of tropical microbial communities to changing hydrographic conditions are poorly represented. We present here the results from a mesocosm experiment conducted in coastal southwestern India to investigate how changes in temperature and salinity may affect a coastal tropical microbial community. The onset of algal and bacterial blooms, maximum production and biomass, and the interrelationship between phytoplankton and bacteria were studied in replicated mesocosms. The treatments were set up to feature ambient conditions (28°C, 35 PSU), hyposalinity (31 PSU), warming (31°C), and a double manipulation treatment with warming and hyposalinity (31°C, 31 PSU). The hyposaline treatment had the most considerable influence, manifested as significantly lower primary production, and the most dissimilar microphytoplankton species community. The increased temperature acted as a catalyst in the double manipulation treatment, and higher primary production was maintained. We investigated the dynamics of the microbial community with a structural equation model and found a significant interrelationship between phytoplankton biomass and bacterial abundance. Using this methodology, it became evident that temperature and salinity changes, individually and together, mediate direct and indirect effects that influence different compartments of the microbial loop. In the face of climate change, we suggest that in relatively nutrient-replete tropical coastal zones, salinity and temperature changes will affect nutrient assimilation, with subsequent significant effects on the quantity of microbial biomass and production.

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