The Baltic Sea Virome: Diversity and Transcriptional Activity of DNA and RNA Viruses.
ABSTRACT: Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data were generated from size-fractionated samples from 11 sites within the Baltic Sea and adjacent marine waters of Kattegat and freshwater Lake Torneträsk in order to investigate the diversity, distribution, and transcriptional activity of virioplankton. Such a transect, spanning a salinity gradient from freshwater to the open sea, facilitated a broad genome-enabled investigation of natural as well as impacted aspects of Baltic Sea viral communities. Taxonomic signatures representative of phages within the widely distributed order Caudovirales were identified with enrichments in lesser-known families such as Podoviridae and Siphoviridae. The distribution of phage reported to infect diverse and ubiquitous heterotrophic bacteria (SAR11 clades) and cyanobacteria (Synechococcus sp.) displayed population-level shifts in diversity. Samples from higher-salinity conditions (>14 practical salinity units [PSU]) had increased abundances of viruses for picoeukaryotes, i.e., Ostreococcus. These data, combined with host diversity estimates, suggest viral modulation of diversity on the whole-community scale, as well as in specific prokaryotic and eukaryotic lineages. RNA libraries revealed single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and RNA viral populations throughout the Baltic Sea, with ssDNA phage highly represented in Lake Torneträsk. Further, our data suggest relatively high transcriptional activity of fish viruses within diverse families known to have broad host ranges, such as Nodoviridae (RNA), Iridoviridae (DNA), and predicted zoonotic viruses that can cause ecological and economic damage as well as impact human health. IMPORTANCE Inferred virus-host relationships, community structures of ubiquitous ecologically relevant groups, and identification of transcriptionally active populations have been achieved with our Baltic Sea study. Further, these data, highlighting the transcriptional activity of viruses, represent one of the more powerful uses of omics concerning ecosystem health. The use of omics-related data to assess ecosystem health holds great promise for rapid and relatively inexpensive determination of perturbations and risk, explicitly with regard to viral assemblages, as no single marker gene is suitable for widespread taxonomic coverage.
Project description:The Baltic Sea is a shallow basin of brackish water in which the spatial salinity gradient is one of the most important factors contributing to species distribution. The Baltic Sea is infamous for its annual cyanobacterial blooms comprised of Nodularia spumigena, Aphanizomenon spp., and Dolichospermum spp. that cause harm, especially for recreational users. To broaden our knowledge of the cyanobacterial adaptation strategies for brackish water environments, we sequenced the entire genome of Dolichospermum sp. UHCC 0315, a species occurring not only in freshwater environments but also in brackish water. Comparative genomics analyses revealed a close association with Dolichospermum sp. UHCC 0090 isolated from a lake in Finland. The genome closure of Dolichospermum sp. UHCC 0315 unraveled a mixture of two subtypes in the original culture, and subtypes exhibited distinct buoyancy phenotypes. Salinity less than 3 g L-1 NaCl enabled proper growth of Dolichospermum sp. UHCC 0315, whereas growth was arrested at moderate salinity (6 g L-1 NaCl). The concentrations of toxins, microcystins, increased at moderate salinity, whereas RNA sequencing data implied that Dolichospermum remodeled its primary metabolism in unfavorable high salinity. Based on our results, the predicted salinity decrease in the Baltic Sea may favor toxic blooms of Dolichospermum spp.
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: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:Colony-forming cyanobacteria of the genus Aphanizomenon form massive blooms in the brackish water of the Baltic Sea during the warmest summer months. There have been recent suggestions claiming that the Baltic Sea Aphanizomenon species may be different from Aphanizomenon flos-aquae found in lakes. In this study, we examined variability in the morphology and 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences of A. flos-aquae populations along a salinity gradient from a string of lakes to a fjord-like extension of the Baltic Sea to the open Baltic Sea. Morphological differences among the populations were negligible. We found that the Baltic Sea was dominated (25 out of 27 sequences) by one ITS1-S (shorter band of ITS 1 [ITS1]) genotype, which also was found in the lakes. The lake populations of A. flos-aquae tended to be genetically more diverse than the Baltic Sea populations. Since the lake ITS1-S genotypes of A. flos-aquae are continuously introduced to the Baltic Sea via inflowing waters, it seems that only one ITS1 genotype is able to persist in the Baltic Sea populations. The results suggest that one of the ITS1-S genotypes found in the lakes is better adapted to the conditions of the Baltic Sea and that natural selection removes most of the lake genotypes from the Baltic Sea A. flos-aquae populations.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The degree of genetic differentiation among populations experiencing high levels of gene flow is expected to be low for neutral genomic sites, but substantial divergence can occur in sites subject to directional selection. Studies of highly mobile marine fish populations provide an opportunity to investigate this kind of heterogeneous genomic differentiation, but most studies to this effect have focused on a relatively low number of genetic markers and/or few populations. Hence, the patterns and extent of genomic divergence in high-gene flow marine fish populations remain poorly understood. RESULTS: We here investigated genome-wide patterns of genetic variability and differentiation in 10 marine populations of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) distributed across a steep salinity and temperature gradient in the Baltic Sea, by utilizing?>?30,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms obtained with a pooled RAD-seq approach. We found that genetic diversity and differentiation varied widely across the genome, and identified numerous fairly narrow genomic regions exhibiting signatures of both divergent and balancing selection. Evidence was uncovered for substantial genetic differentiation associated with both salinity and temperature gradients, and many candidate genes associated with local adaptation in the Baltic Sea were identified. CONCLUSIONS: The patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation, as well as candidate genes associated with adaptation in Baltic Sea sticklebacks were similar to those observed in earlier comparisons between marine and freshwater populations, suggesting that similar processes may be driving adaptation to brackish and freshwater environments. Taken together, our results provide strong evidence for heterogenic genomic divergence driven by local adaptation in the face of gene flow along an environmental gradient in the post-glacially formed Baltic Sea.
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:Viruses are an abundant and active component of marine sediments and play a significant role in microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycling at local and global scales. To obtain a better understanding of the ecological characteristics of the viriobenthos, the abundance and morphology of viruses and the diversity and community structure of T4-type phages were systematically investigated in the surface sediments of the subtropical Pearl River Estuary (PRE). Viral abundances ranged from 4.49 × 108 to 11.7 × 108 viruses/g and prokaryotic abundances ranged from 2.63 × 108 to 9.55 × 108 cells/g, and both decreased from freshwater to saltwater. Diverse viral morphotypes, including tailed, spherical, filamentous, and rod-shaped viruses, were observed using transmission electron microscopy. Analysis of the major capsid gene (g23) indicated that the sediment T4-type phages were highly diverse and, similar to the trend in viral abundances, their diversity decreased as the salinity increased. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that most of the g23 operational taxonomic units were affiliated with marine, paddy soil, and lake groups. The T4-type phage communities in freshwater and saltwater sediments showed obvious differences, which were related to changes in the Pearl River discharge. The results of this study demonstrated both allochthonous and autochthonous sources of the viral community in the PRE sediments and the movement of certain T4-type viral groups between the freshwater and saline water biomes.
Project description:Drivers of population genetic structure are still poorly understood in marine micro-organisms. We exploited the North Sea-Baltic Sea transition for investigating the seascape genetics of a marine diatom, Skeletonema marinoi. Eight polymorphic microsatellite loci were analysed in 354 individuals from ten locations to analyse population structure of the species along a 1500-km-long salinity gradient ranging from 3 to 30 psu. To test for salinity adaptation, salinity reaction norms were determined for sets of strains originating from three different salinity regimes of the gradient. Modelled oceanographic connectivity was compared to directional relative migration by correlation analyses to examine oceanographic drivers. Population genetic analyses showed distinct genetic divergence of a low-salinity Baltic Sea population and a high-salinity North Sea population, coinciding with the most evident physical dispersal barrier in the area, the Danish Straits. Baltic Sea populations displayed reduced genetic diversity compared to North Sea populations. Growth optima of low salinity isolates were significantly lower than those of strains from higher native salinities, indicating local salinity adaptation. Although the North Sea-Baltic Sea transition was identified as a barrier to gene flow, migration between Baltic Sea and North Sea populations occurred. However, the presence of differentiated neutral markers on each side of the transition zone suggests that migrants are maladapted. It is concluded that local salinity adaptation, supported by oceanographic connectivity patterns creating an asymmetric migration pattern between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, determines genetic differentiation patterns in the transition zone.
Project description:Several models have been developed for the description of diversity in estuaries and other brackish habitats, with the most recognized being Remane's Artenminimum ("species minimum") concept. It was developed for the Baltic Sea, one of the world's largest semi-enclosed brackish water body with a unique permanent salinity gradient, and it argues that taxonomic diversity of macrobenthic organisms is lowest within the horohalinicum (5 to 8 psu). The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between salinity and sediment microbial diversity at a freshwater-marine transect in Amvrakikos Gulf (Ionian Sea, Western Greece) and assess whether species composition and community function follow a generalized concept such as Remane's. DNA was extracted from sediment samples from six stations along the aforementioned transect and sequenced for the 16S rRNA gene using high-throughput sequencing. The metabolic functions of the OTUs were predicted and the most abundant metabolic pathways were extracted. Key abiotic variables, i.e., salinity, temperature, chlorophyll-a and oxygen concentration etc., were measured and their relation with diversity and functional patterns was explored. Microbial communities were found to differ in the three habitats examined (river, lagoon and sea) with certain taxonomic groups being more abundant in the freshwater and less in the marine environment, and vice versa. Salinity was the environmental factor with the highest correlation to the microbial community pattern, while oxygen concentration was highly correlated to the metabolic functional pattern. The total number of OTUs showed a negative relationship with increasing salinity, thus the sediment microbial OTUs in this study area do not follow Remane's concept.
Project description:Climate change experts largely agree that future climate change and associated rises in oceanic water levels over the upcoming decades, will affect marine salinity levels. The subsequent effects on fish communities in estuarine ecosystems however, are less clear. One species that is likely to become increasingly affected by changes in salinity is the ide (Leuciscus idus). The ide is a stenohaline freshwater fish that primarily inhabits rivers, with frequent anadromous behavior when sea salinity does not exceed 15%. Unlike most other anadromous Baltic Sea fish species, the ide has yet to be subjected to large-scale stocking programs, and thus provides an excellent opportunity for studying the natural population structure across the current salinity gradient in the Danish Belts. To explore this, we used Genotyping-by-Sequencing to determine genomic population structure of both freshwater resident and anadromous ide populations in the western Baltic Sea region, and relate the results to the current salinity gradient and the demographic history of ide in the region. The sample sites separate into four clusters, with all anadromous populations in one cluster and the freshwater resident populations in the remaining three. Results demonstrate high level of differentiation between sites hosting freshwater resident populations, but little differentiation among anadromous populations. Thus ide exhibit the genomic population structure of both a typical freshwater species, and a typical anadromous species. In addition to providing a first insight into the population structure of north-western European ide, our data also (1) provide indications of a single illegal introduction by man; (2) suggest limited genetic effects of heavy pollution in the past; and (3) indicate possible historical anadromous behavior in a now isolated freshwater population.