Transplant experiments uncover Baltic Sea basin-specific responses in bacterioplankton community composition and metabolic activities.
ABSTRACT: Anthropogenically induced changes in precipitation are projected to generate increased river runoff to semi-enclosed seas, increasing loads of terrestrial dissolved organic matter and decreasing salinity. To determine how bacterial community structure and functioning adjust to such changes, we designed microcosm transplant experiments with Baltic Proper (salinity 7.2) and Bothnian Sea (salinity 3.6) water. Baltic Proper bacteria generally reached higher abundances than Bothnian Sea bacteria in both Baltic Proper and Bothnian Sea water, indicating higher adaptability. Moreover, Baltic Proper bacteria growing in Bothnian Sea water consistently showed highest bacterial production and beta-glucosidase activity. These metabolic responses were accompanied by basin-specific changes in bacterial community structure. For example, Baltic Proper Pseudomonas and Limnobacter populations increased markedly in relative abundance in Bothnian Sea water, indicating a replacement effect. In contrast, Roseobacter and Rheinheimera populations were stable or increased in abundance when challenged by either of the waters, indicating an adjustment effect. Transplants to Bothnian Sea water triggered the initial emergence of particular Burkholderiaceae populations, and transplants to Baltic Proper water triggered Alteromonadaceae populations. Notably, in the subsequent re-transplant experiment, a priming effect resulted in further increases to dominance of these populations. Correlated changes in community composition and metabolic activity were observed only in the transplant experiment and only at relatively high phylogenetic resolution. This suggested an importance of successional progression for interpreting relationships between bacterial community composition and functioning. We infer that priming effects on bacterial community structure by natural episodic events or climate change induced forcing could translate into long-term changes in bacterial ecosystem process rates.
Project description:Closely related taxa provide significant case studies for understanding evolution of new species but may simultaneously challenge species identification and definition. In the Baltic Sea, two dominant and perennial brown algae share a very recent ancestry. Fucus vesiculosus invaded this recently formed postglacial sea 8000 years ago and shortly thereafter Fucus radicans diverged from this lineage as an endemic species. In the Baltic Sea both species reproduce sexually but also recruit fully fertile new individuals by asexual fragmentation. Earlier studies have shown local differences in morphology and genetics between the two taxa in the northern and western Bothnian Sea, and around the island of Saaremaa in Estonia, but geographic patterns seem in conflict with a single origin of F. radicans. To investigate the relationship between northern and Estonian distributions, we analysed the genetic variation using 9 microsatellite loci in populations from eastern Bothnian Sea, Archipelago Sea and the Gulf of Finland. These populations are located in between earlier studied populations. However, instead of bridging the disparate genetic gap between N-W Bothnian Sea and Estonia, as expected from a simple isolation-by-distance model, the new populations substantially increased overall genetic diversity and showed to be strongly divergent from the two earlier analysed regions, showing signs of additional distinct populations. Contrasting earlier findings of increased asexual recruitment in low salinity in the Bothnian Sea, we found high levels of sexual reproduction in some of the Gulf of Finland populations that inhabit extremely low salinity. The new data generated in this study supports the earlier conclusion of two reproductively isolated but very closely related species. However, the new results also add considerable genetic and morphological complexity within species. This makes species separation at geographic scales more demanding and suggests a need for more comprehensive approaches to further disentangle the intriguing relationship and history of the Baltic Sea fucoids.
Project description:The Baltic Sea is one of the largest brackish environments on Earth. Despite extensive knowledge about food web interactions and pelagic ecosystem functioning, information about the bacterial community composition in the Baltic Sea is scarce. We hypothesized that due to the eutrophic low-salinity environment and the long water residence time (>5 years), the bacterioplankton community from the Baltic proper shows a native "brackish" composition influenced by both freshwater and marine phylotypes. The bacterial community composition in surface water (3-m depth) was examined at a single station throughout a full year. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) showed that the community composition changed over the year. Further, it indicated that at the four extensive samplings (16S rRNA gene clone libraries and bacterial isolates from low- and high-nutrient agar plates and seawater cultures), different bacterial assemblages associated with different environmental conditions were present. Overall, the sequencing of 26 DGGE bands, 160 clones, 209 plate isolates, and 9 dilution culture isolates showed that the bacterial assemblage in surface waters of the central Baltic Sea was dominated by Bacteroidetes but exhibited a pronounced influence of typical freshwater phylogenetic groups within Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Betaproteobacteria and a lack of typical marine taxa. This first comprehensive analysis of bacterial community composition in the central Baltic Sea points to the existence of an autochthonous estuarine community uniquely adapted to the environmental conditions prevailing in this brackish environment.
Project description:To investigate the responses of Baltic Sea wintertime bacterial communities to changing salinity (5 to 26 practical salinity units), an experimental study was conducted. Bacterial communities of Baltic seawater and sea ice from a coastal site in southwest Finland were used in two batch culture experiments run for 17 or 18 days at 0 degrees C. Bacterial abundance, cell volume, and leucine and thymidine incorporation were measured during the experiments. The bacterial community structure was assessed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified partial 16S rRNA genes with sequencing of DGGE bands from initial communities and communities of day 10 or 13 of the experiment. The sea ice-derived bacterial community was metabolically more active than the open-water community at the start of the experiment. Ice-derived bacterial communities were able to adapt to salinity change with smaller effects on physiology and community structure, whereas in the open-water bacterial communities, the bacterial cell volume evolution, bacterial abundance, and community structure responses indicated the presence of salinity stress. The closest relatives for all eight partial 16S rRNA gene sequences obtained were either organisms found in polar sea ice and other cold habitats or those found in summertime Baltic seawater. All sequences except one were associated with the alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria or the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides group. The overall physiological and community structure responses were parallel in ice-derived and open-water bacterial assemblages, which points to a linkage between community structure and physiology. These results support previous assumptions of the role of salinity fluctuation as a major selective factor shaping the sea ice bacterial community structure.
Project description:Salinity has a strong impact on bacterial community composition such that freshwater bacterial communities are very different from those in seawater. By contrast, little is known about the composition and diversity of the bacterial community in the sediments (bacteriobenthos) at the freshwater-seawater transition (mesohaline conditions). In this study, partial 16S-rRNA sequences were used to investigate the bacterial community at five stations, representing almost freshwater (oligohaline) to marine conditions, in the Baltic Sea. Samples were obtained from the silty, top-layer (0-2.5 cm) sediments with mostly oxygenated conditions. The long water residence time characteristic of the Baltic Sea, was predicted to enable the development of autochthonous bacteriobenthos at mesohaline conditions. Our results showed that, similar to the water column, salinity is a major factor in structuring the bacteriobenthos and that there is no loss of bacterial richness at intermediate salinities. The bacterial communities of marine, mesohaline, and oligohaline sediments differed in terms of the relative rRNA abundances of the major bacterial phyla/classes. At mesohaline conditions typical marine and oligohaline operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were abundant. Putative unique OTUs in mesohaline sediments were present only at low abundances, suggesting that the mesohaline environment consists mainly of marine and oligohaline bacteria with a broad salinity tolerance. Our study provides a first overview of the diversity patterns and composition of bacteria in the sediments along the Baltic Sea salinity gradient as well as new insights into the bacteriobenthos at mesohaline conditions.
Project description:Salinity is a major factor controlling the distribution of biota in aquatic systems, and most aquatic multicellular organisms are either adapted to life in saltwater or freshwater conditions. Consequently, the saltwater-freshwater mixing zones in coastal or estuarine areas are characterized by limited faunal and floral diversity. Although changes in diversity and decline in species richness in brackish waters is well documented in aquatic ecology, it is unknown to what extent this applies to bacterial communities. Here, we report a first detailed bacterial inventory from vertical profiles of 60 sampling stations distributed along the salinity gradient of the Baltic Sea, one of world's largest brackish water environments, generated using 454 pyrosequencing of partial (400?bp) 16S rRNA genes. Within the salinity gradient, bacterial community composition altered at broad and finer-scale phylogenetic levels. Analogous to faunal communities within brackish conditions, we identified a bacterial brackish water community comprising a diverse combination of freshwater and marine groups, along with populations unique to this environment. As water residence times in the Baltic Sea exceed 3 years, the observed bacterial community cannot be the result of mixing of fresh water and saltwater, but our study represents the first detailed description of an autochthonous brackish microbiome. In contrast to the decline in the diversity of multicellular organisms, reduced bacterial diversity at brackish conditions could not be established. It is possible that the rapid adaptation rate of bacteria has enabled a variety of lineages to fill what for higher organisms remains a challenging and relatively unoccupied ecological niche.
Project description:Frequencies and biomass of Baltic Sea cyanobacterial blooms are expected to be higher in future climate conditions, but also of longer duration as a result of increased sea surface temperature. Concurrently, climate predictions indicate a reduced salinity in the Baltic Sea. These climate-driven changes are expected to alter not solely the phytoplankton community but also the role of microbial communities for nutrient remineralization. Here, we present the response of summer plankton communities (filamentous cyanobacteria, picocyanobacteria, and heterotrophic bacteria) to the interplay of increasing temperature (from 16 to 18°C and 20°C) and reduced salinity (from salinity 6.9 to 5.9) in the Baltic Proper (NW Gotland Sea) using a microcosm approach. Warmer temperatures led to an earlier peak of cyanobacterial biomass, while yields were reduced. These conditions caused a decrease of nitrogen-fixers (Dolichospermum sp.) biomass, while non nitrogen-fixers (Pseudanabaena sp.) increased. Salinity reduction did not affect cyanobacterial growth nor community composition. Among heterotrophic bacteria, Actinobacteria showed preference for high temperature, while Gammaproteobacteria thrived at in situ temperature. Heterotrophic bacteria community changed drastically at lower salinity and resembled communities at high temperature. Picocyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacterial biomass had a pronounced increase associated with the decay of filamentous cyanobacteria. This suggests that shifts in community composition of heterotrophic bacteria are influenced both directly by abiotic factors (temperature and salinity) and potentially indirectly by cyanobacteria. Our findings suggest that at warmer temperature, lower yield of photosynthetic cyanobacteria combined with lower proportion of nitrogen-fixers in the community could result in lower carbon export to the marine food web with consequences for the decomposer community of heterotrophic bacteria.
Project description:Even if many Vibrio spp. are endemic to coastal waters, their distribution in northern temperate and boreal waters is poorly studied. To identify environmental factors regulating Vibrio populations in a salinity gradient along the Swedish coastline, we combined Vibrio-specific quantitative competitive PCR with denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis-based genotyping. The total Vibrio abundance ranged from 4 x 10(3) to 9.6 x 10(4) cells liter(-1), with the highest abundances in the more saline waters of the Skagerrak Sea. Several Vibrio populations were present throughout the salinity gradient, with abundances of single populations ranging from 5 x 10(2) to 7 x 10(4) cells liter(-1). Clear differences were observed along the salinity gradient, where three populations dominated the more saline waters of the Skagerrak Sea and two populations containing mainly representatives of V. anguillarum and V. aestuarianus genotypes were abundant in the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea. Our results suggest that this apparent niche separation within the genus Vibrio may also be influenced by alternate factors such as nutrient levels and high abundances of dinoflagellates. A V. cholerae/V. mimicus population was detected in more than 50% of the samples, with abundances exceeding 10(3) cells liter(-1), even in the cold (annual average water temperature of around 5 degrees C) and low-salinity (2 to 4 per thousand) samples from the Bothnian Bay (latitude, 65 degrees N). The unsuspected and widespread occurrence of this population in temperate and boreal coastal waters suggests that potential Vibrio pathogens may also be endemic to cold and brackish waters and hence may represent a previously overlooked health hazard.
Project description:Long-range atmospheric transport is a major pathway for delivering persistent organic pollutants to the oceans. Atmospheric deposition and volatilization of chlorinated pesticides and algae-produced bromoanisoles (BAs) were estimated for Bothnian Bay, northern Baltic Sea, based on air and water concentrations measured in 2011-2012. Pesticide fluxes were estimated using monthly air and water temperatures and assuming 4 months ice cover when no exchange occurs. Fluxes were predicted to increase by about 50 % under a 2069-2099 prediction scenario of higher temperatures and no ice. Total atmospheric loadings to Bothnian Bay and its catchment were derived from air-sea gas exchange and "bulk" (precipitation + dry particle) deposition, resulting in net gains of 53 and 46 kg year(-1) for endosulfans and hexachlorocyclohexanes, respectively, and net loss of 10 kg year(-1) for chlordanes. Volatilization of BAs releases bromine to the atmosphere and may limit their residence time in Bothnian Bay. This initial study provides baseline information for future investigations of climate change on biogeochemical cycles in the northern Baltic Sea and its catchment.
Project description:Microbial plankton form the productive base of both marine and freshwater ecosystems and are key drivers of global biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients. Plankton diversity is immense with representations from all major phyla within the three domains of life. So far, plankton monitoring has mainly been based on microscopic identification, which has limited sensitivity and reproducibility, not least because of the numerical majority of plankton being unidentifiable under the light microscope. High-throughput sequencing of taxonomic marker genes offers a means to identify taxa inaccessible by traditional methods; thus, recent studies have unveiled an extensive previously unknown diversity of plankton. Here, we conducted ultra-deep Illumina sequencing (average 10(5) sequences/sample) of rRNA gene amplicons of surface water eukaryotic and bacterial plankton communities sampled in summer along a 2000 km transect following the salinity gradient of the Baltic Sea. Community composition was strongly correlated with salinity for both bacterial and eukaryotic plankton assemblages, highlighting the importance of salinity for structuring the biodiversity within this ecosystem. In contrast, no clear trends in alpha-diversity for bacterial or eukaryotic communities could be detected along the transect. The distribution of major planktonic taxa followed expected patterns as observed in monitoring programs, but groups novel to the Baltic Sea were also identified, such as relatives to the coccolithophore Emiliana huxleyi detected in the northern Baltic Sea. This study provides the first ultra-deep sequencing-based survey on eukaryotic and bacterial plankton biogeography in the Baltic Sea.
Project description:Understanding the key processes that control bacterial community composition has enabled predictions of bacterial distribution and function within ecosystems. In this study, we used the Baltic Sea as a model system to quantify the phylogenetic signal of salinity and season with respect to bacterioplankton community composition. The abundances of 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing reads were analyzed from samples obtained from similar geographic locations in July and February along a brackish to marine salinity gradient in the Baltic Sea. While there was no distinct pattern of bacterial richness at different salinities, the number of bacterial phylotypes in winter was significantly higher than in summer. Bacterial community composition in brackish vs. marine conditions, and in July vs. February was significantly different. Non-metric multidimensional scaling showed that bacterial community composition was primarily separated according to salinity and secondly according to seasonal differences at all taxonomic ranks tested. Similarly, quantitative phylogenetic clustering implicated a phylogenetic signal for both salinity and seasonality. Our results suggest that global patterns of bacterial community composition with respect to salinity and season are the result of phylogenetically clustered ecological preferences with stronger imprints from salinity.