Benthic Bacterial Community Composition in the Oligohaline-Marine Transition of Surface Sediments in the Baltic Sea Based on rRNA Analysis.
ABSTRACT: 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:Differences in salinity are boundaries that act as barriers for the dispersal of most aquatic organisms. This creates distinctive biota in freshwater and brackish water (mesohaline) environments. To test how saline boundaries influence the diversity and composition of host-associated microbiota, we analyzed the microbiome within the digestive tract of Theodoxus fluviatilis, an organism able to cross the freshwater and mesohaline boundary. Alpha-diversity measures of the microbiome in freshwater and brackish water were not significantly different. However, the composition of the bacterial community within freshwater T. fluviatilis differed significantly compared with mesohaline T. fluviatilis and typical bacteria could be determined for the freshwater and the mesohaline digestive tract microbiome. An artificial increase in salinity surrounding these freshwater snails resulted in a strong change in the bacterial community and typical marine bacteria became more pronounced in the digestive tract microbiome of freshwater T. fluviatilis. However, the composition of the digestive tract microbiome in freshwater snails did not converge to that found within mesohaline snails. Within mesohaline snails, no cardinal change was found after either an increase or decrease in salinity. In all samples, Pseudomonas, Pirellula, Flavobacterium, Limnohabitans, and Acinetobacter were among the most abundant bacteria. These bacterial genera were largely unaffected by changes in environmental conditions. As permanent residents in T. fluviatilis, they may support the digestion of the algal food in the digestive tract. Our results show that freshwater and mesohaline water host-associated microbiomes respond differently to changes in salinity. Therefore, the salinization of coastal freshwater environments due to a rise in sea level can influence the gut microbiome and its functions with currently unknown consequences for, e.g., nutritional physiology of the host.
Project description:Many studies on bacterial community composition (BCC) do not distinguish between particle-associated (PA) and free-living (FL) bacteria or neglect the PA fraction by pre-filtration removing most particles. Although temporal and spatial gradients in environmental variables are known to shape BCC, it remains unclear how and to what extent PA and FL bacterial diversity responds to such environmental changes. To elucidate the BCC of both bacterial fractions related to different environmental settings, we studied surface samples of three Baltic Sea stations (marine, mesohaline, and oligohaline) in two different seasons (summer and fall/winter). Amplicon sequencing of the 16 S rRNA gene revealed significant differences in BCC of both bacterial fractions among stations and seasons, with a particularly high number of PA operational taxonomic units (OTUs at genus-level) at the marine station in both seasons. "Shannon and Simpson indices" showed a higher diversity of PA than FL bacteria at the marine station in both seasons and at the oligohaline station in fall/winter. In general, a high fraction of bacterial OTUs was found exclusively in the PA fraction (52% of total OTUs). These findings indicate that PA bacteria significantly contribute to overall bacterial richness and that they differ from FL bacteria. Therefore, to gain a deeper understanding on diversity and dynamics of aquatic bacteria, PA and FL bacteria should be generally studied independently.
Project description:Enclosure experiments are frequently used to investigate the impact of changing environmental conditions on microbial assemblages. Yet, how the incubation itself challenges complex bacterial communities is thus far unknown. In this study, metaproteomic profiling, 16S rRNA gene analyses, and cell counts were combined to evaluate bacterial communities derived from marine, mesohaline, and oligohaline conditions after long-term batch incubations. Early in the experiment, the three bacterial communities were highly diverse and differed significantly in their compositions. Manipulation of the enclosures with terrigenous dissolved organic carbon resulted in notable differences compared to the control enclosures at this early phase of the experiment. However, after 55?days, bacterial communities in the manipulated and the control enclosures under marine and mesohaline conditions were all dominated by gammaproteobacterium Spongiibacter In the oligohaline enclosures, actinobacterial cluster I of the hgc group (hgc-I) remained abundant in the late phase of the incubation. Metaproteome analyses suggested that the ability to use outer membrane-based internal energy stores, in addition to the previously described grazing resistance, may enable the gammaproteobacterium Spongiibacter to prevail in long-time incubations. Under oligohaline conditions, the utilization of external recalcitrant carbon appeared to be more important (hgc-I). Enclosure experiments with complex natural microbial communities are important tools to investigate the effects of manipulations. However, species-specific properties, such as individual carbon storage strategies, can cause manipulation-independent effects and need to be considered when interpreting results from enclosures.IMPORTANCE In microbial ecology, enclosure studies are often used to investigate the effect of single environmental factors on complex bacterial communities. However, in addition to the manipulation, unintended effects ("bottle effect") may occur due to the enclosure itself. In this study, we analyzed the bacterial communities that originated from three different salinities of the Baltic Sea, comparing their compositions and physiological activities both at the early stage and after 55?days of incubation. Our results suggested that internal carbon storage strategies impact the success of certain bacterial species, independent of the experimental manipulation. Thus, while enclosure experiments remain valid tools in environmental research, microbial community composition shifts must be critically followed. This investigation of the metaproteome during long-term batch enclosures expanded our current understanding of the so-called "bottle effect," which is well known to occur during enclosure experiments.
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: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:Phosphorus release from sediments can exacerbate the effect of eutrophication in coastal marine ecosystems. The flux of phosphorus from marine sediments to the overlying water is highly dependent on the redox conditions at the sediment-water interface. Bacteria are key players in the biological processes that release or retain phosphorus in marine sediments. To gain more insight in the role of bacteria in phosphorus release from sediments, we assessed the effect of redox conditions on the structure of bacterial communities. To do so, we incubated surface sediments from four sampling sites in the Baltic Sea under oxic and anoxic conditions and analyzed the fingerprints of the bacterial community structures in these incubations and the original sediments. This paper describes the effects of redox conditions, sampling station, and sample type (DNA, RNA, or whole-cell sample) on bacterial community structure in sediments. Redox conditions explained only 5% of the variance in community structure, and bacterial communities from contrasting redox conditions showed considerable overlap. We conclude that benthic bacterial communities cannot be classified as being typical for oxic or anoxic conditions based on community structure fingerprints. Our results suggest that the overall structure of the benthic bacterial community has only a limited impact on benthic phosphate fluxes in the Baltic Sea.
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:Bacterial community composition and functional potential change subtly across gradients in the surface ocean. In contrast, while there are significant phylogenetic divergences between communities from freshwater and marine habitats, the underlying mechanisms to this phylogenetic structuring yet remain unknown. We hypothesized that the functional potential of natural bacterial communities is linked to this striking divide between microbiomes. To test this hypothesis, metagenomic sequencing of microbial communities along a 1,800 km transect in the Baltic Sea area, encompassing a continuous natural salinity gradient from limnic to fully marine conditions, was explored. Multivariate statistical analyses showed that salinity is the main determinant of dramatic changes in microbial community composition, but also of large scale changes in core metabolic functions of bacteria. Strikingly, genetically and metabolically different pathways for key metabolic processes, such as respiration, biosynthesis of quinones and isoprenoids, glycolysis and osmolyte transport, were differentially abundant at high and low salinities. These shifts in functional capacities were observed at multiple taxonomic levels and within dominant bacterial phyla, while bacteria, such as SAR11, were able to adapt to the entire salinity gradient. We propose that the large differences in central metabolism required at high and low salinities dictate the striking divide between freshwater and marine microbiomes, and that the ability to inhabit different salinity regimes evolved early during bacterial phylogenetic differentiation. These findings significantly advance our understanding of microbial distributions and stress the need to incorporate salinity in future climate change models that predict increased levels of precipitation and a reduction in salinity.
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.
Project description:Habitat stratification by abiotic and biotic factors initiates divergence of populations and leads to ecological speciation. In contrast to fully marine waters, the Baltic Sea is stratified by a salinity gradient that strongly affects fish physiology, distribution, diversity and virulence of important marine pathogens. Animals thus face the challenge to simultaneously adapt to the concurrent salinity and cope with the selection imposed by the changing pathogenic virulence. Western Baltic spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) migrate to spawning grounds characterized by different salinities to which herring are supposedly adapted. We hypothesized that herring populations do not only have to cope with different salinity levels but that they are simultaneously exposed to higher-order effects that accompany the shifts in salinity, that is induced pathogenicity of Vibrio bacteria in lower saline waters. To experimentally evaluate this, adults of two populations were caught in their spawning grounds and fully reciprocally crossed within and between populations. Larvae were reared at three salinity levels, representing the spawning ground salinity of each of the two populations, or Atlantic salinity conditions resembling the phylogenetic origin of Clupea harengus. In addition, larvae were exposed to a Vibrio spp. infection. Life-history traits and gene expression analysis served as response variables. Herring seem adapted to Baltic Sea conditions and cope better with low saline waters. However, upon a bacterial infection, herring larvae suffer more when kept at lower salinities implying reduced resistance against Vibrio or higher Vibrio virulence. In the context of recent climate change with less saline marine waters in the Baltic Sea, such interactions may constitute key future stressors.