Heterotrophic protists are a highly diverse and biogeochemically significant component of marine ecosystems, yet little is known about their species-specific prey preferences and symbiotic interactions in situ. Here we demonstrate how these previously unresolved questions can be addressed by sequencing the eukaryote and bacterial SSU rRNA genes from individual, uncultured protist cells collected from their natural marine environment and sorted by flow cytometry. We detected Pelagibacter ubique in association with a MAST-4 protist, an actinobacterium in association with a chrysophyte and three bacteroidetes in association with diverse protist groups. The presence of identical phylotypes among the putative prey and the free bacterioplankton in the same sample provides evidence for predator–prey interactions. Our results also suggest a discovery of novel symbionts, distantly related to Rickettsiales and the candidate divisions ZB3 and TG2, associated with Cercozoa and Chrysophyta cells. This study demonstrates the power of single cell sequencing to untangle ecological interactions between uncultured protists and prokaryotes.
protist; single cell genomics; symbiont; marine; Pelagibacter; MAST
To follow the anaerobic degradation of organic matter in tidal-flat sediments, a stimulation experiment with 13C-labeled Spirulina biomass (130 mg per 21 g sediment slurry) was conducted over a period of 24 days. A combination of microcalorimetry to record process kinetics, chemical analyses of fermentation products and RNA-based stable-isotope probing (SIP) to follow community changes was applied. Different degradation phases could be identified by microcalorimetry: Within 2 days, heat output reached its maximum (55 μW), while primary fermentation products were formed (in μmol) as follows: acetate 440, ethanol 195, butyrate 128, propionate 112, H2 127 and smaller amounts of valerate, propanol and butanol. Sulfate was depleted within 7 days. Thereafter, methanogenesis was observed and secondary fermentation proceeded. H2 and alcohols disappeared completely, whereas fatty acids decreased in concentration. Three main degraders were identified by RNA-based SIP and denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis. After 12 h, two phylotypes clearly enriched in 13C: (i) Psychrilyobacter atlanticus, a fermenter known to produce hydrogen and acetate and (ii) bacteria distantly related to Propionigenium. A Cytophaga-related bacterium was highly abundant after day 3. Sulfate reduction appeared to be performed by incompletely oxidizing species, as only sulfate-reducing bacteria related to Desulfovibrio were labeled as long as sulfate was available.
microcalorimetry; RNA-based stable-isotope probing; DGGE; fermentation; Spirulina; anoxic tidal-flat sediments
The caridean shrimp Rimicaris exoculata dominates the fauna at several Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vent sites. This shrimp has an enlarged gill chamber, harboring a dense ectosymbiotic community of chemoautotrophic bacteria associated with mineral oxide deposits. Until now, their acquisition is not fully understood. At three hydrothermal vent sites, we analyzed the epibionts diversity at different moult stages and also in the first stages of the shrimp life (eggs, hatched eggs (with larvae) and juveniles). Hatched eggs associated with young larvae were collected for the first time directly from gravid females at the Logachev vent site during the Serpentine cruise. An approach using 16S rRNA clone libraries, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and fluorescent in situ hybridization was used. Molecular results and microscope observations indicated a switch in the composition of the bacterial community between early R. exoculata life cycle stage (egg libraries dominated by the Gammaproteobacteria) and later stages (juvenile/adult libraries dominated by the Epsilonproteobacteria). We hypothesized that the epibiotic phylotype composition could vary according to the life stage of the shrimp. Our results confirmed the occurrence of a symbiosis with Gammaproteobacteria and Epsilonproteobacteria, but more complex than previously assumed. We revealed the presence of active type-I methanotrophic bacteria colonizing the cephalothorax of shrimps from the Rainbow site. They were also present on the eggs from the Logachev site. This could be the first ‘epibiotic' association between methanotrophic bacteria and hydrothermal vent crustacean. We discuss possible transmission pathways for epibionts linked to the shrimp life cycle.
symbiosis; larvae; methanotrophic symbiont; Rimicaris exoculata; transmission pathways
Coral reefs are deteriorating at an alarming rate mainly as a consequence of the emergence of coral diseases. The white plague disease (WPD) is the most prevalent coral disease in the southwestern Caribbean, affecting dozens of coral species. However, the identification of a single causal agent has proved problematic. This suggests more complex etiological scenarios involving alterations in the dynamic interaction between environmental factors, the coral immune system and the symbiotic microbial communities. Here we compare the microbiome of healthy and WPD-affected corals from the two reef-building species Diploria strigosa and Siderastrea siderea collected at the Tayrona National Park in the Caribbean of Colombia. Microbiomes were analyzed by combining culture-dependent methods and pyrosequencing of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) V5-V6 hypervariable regions. A total of 20 410 classifiable 16S rDNA sequences reads were obtained including all samples. No significant differences in operational taxonomic unit diversity were found between healthy and affected tissues; however, a significant increase of Alphaproteobacteria and a concomitant decrease in the Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria was observed in WPD-affected corals of both species. Significant shifts were also observed in the orders Rhizobiales, Caulobacteriales, Burkholderiales, Rhodobacterales, Aleteromonadales and Xanthomonadales, although they were not consistent between the two coral species. These shifts in the microbiome structure of WPD-affected corals suggest a loss of community-mediated growth control mechanisms on bacterial populations specific for each holobiont system.
bacterial community; white plague disease; coral diseases; pyrosequencing; Diploria strigosa; Siderastrea siderea
The Line Islands are calcium carbonate coral reef platforms located in iron-poor regions of the central Pacific. Natural terrestrial run-off of iron is non-existent and aerial deposition is extremely low. However, a number of ship groundings have occurred on these atolls. The reefs surrounding the shipwreck debris are characterized by high benthic cover of turf algae, macroalgae, cyanobacterial mats and corallimorphs, as well as particulate-laden, cloudy water. These sites also have very low coral and crustose coralline algal cover and are call black reefs because of the dark-colored benthic community and reduced clarity of the overlying water column. Here we use a combination of benthic surveys, chemistry, metagenomics and microcosms to investigate if and how shipwrecks initiate and maintain black reefs. Comparative surveys show that the live coral cover was reduced from 40 to 60% to <10% on black reefs on Millennium, Tabuaeran and Kingman. These three sites are relatively large (>0.75 km2). The phase shift occurs rapidly; the Kingman black reef formed within 3 years of the ship grounding. Iron concentrations in algae tissue from the Millennium black reef site were six times higher than in algae collected from reference sites. Metagenomic sequencing of the Millennium Atoll black reef-associated microbial community was enriched in iron-associated virulence genes and known pathogens. Microcosm experiments showed that corals were killed by black reef rubble through microbial activity. Together these results demonstrate that shipwrecks and their associated iron pose significant threats to coral reefs in iron-limited regions.
coral reef; iron; metagenomics; microbes; phase shift; shipwreck
There is a large body of evidence supporting a major role of heterotrophic bacteria in dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) utilisation as a source of reduced sulphur. However, a role for phototrophic microorganisms has been only recently described and little is known about their contribution to DMSP consumption and the potential modulating effects of sunlight. In an attempt to ascertain the relative quantitative roles of heterotrophic bacteria and picophytoplankton in the osmoheterotrophic uptake of DMSP-sulphur upon exposure to natural sunlight conditions, we incubated northwestern Mediterranean waters under various optical filters and used an array of bulk and single-cell activity methods to trace the fate of added 35S-DMSP. Flow cytometry cell sorting confirmed dark 35S uptake by Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and heterotrophic bacteria, the latter being the most efficient in terms of uptake on a cell volume basis. Under exposure to full sunlight, however, the relative contribution of Synechococcus was significantly enhanced, mainly because of the inhibition of heterotrophic bacteria. Microautoradiography showed a strong increase in the proportion of Synechococcus cells actively taking up 35S-DMSP, which, after full sunlight exposure, made up to 15% of total active Bacteria. Parallel incubations with 3H-leucine generally showed no clear responses to light. Finally, size-fractionated assimilation experiments showed greater relative cyanobacterial assimilation during the day than at night compared with that of heterotrophic bacteria. Our results show for the first time a major influence of sunlight in regulating the competition among autotrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton for DMSP uptake at both the daily and seasonal time scales.
dimethylsulphoniopropionate; leucine; heterotrophic bacteria; NW Mediterranean; picophytoplankton; solar radiation
Phytoplankton species vary in their physiological properties, and are expected to respond differently to seasonal changes in water column conditions. To assess these varying distribution patterns, we used 412 samples collected monthly over 12 years (1991–2004) at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series Study site, located in the northwestern Sargasso Sea. We measured plastid 16S ribosomal RNA gene abundances with a terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism approach and identified distribution patterns for members of the Prymnesiophyceae, Pelagophyceae, Chrysophyceae, Cryptophyceae, Bacillariophyceae and Prasinophyceae. The analysis revealed dynamic bloom patterns by these phytoplankton taxa that begin early in the year, when the mixed layer is deep. Previously, unreported open-ocean prasinophyte blooms dominated the plastid gene signal during convective mixing events. Quantitative PCR confirmed the blooms and transitions of Bathycoccus, Micromonas and Ostreococcus populations. In contrast, taxa belonging to the pelagophytes and chrysophytes, as well as cryptophytes, reached annual peaks during mixed layer shoaling, while Bacillariophyceae (diatoms) were observed only episodically in the 12-year record. Prymnesiophytes dominated the integrated plastid gene signal. They were abundant throughout the water column before mixing events, but persisted in the deep chlorophyll maximum during stratified conditions. Various models have been used to describe mechanisms that drive vernal phytoplankton blooms in temperate seas. The range of taxon-specific bloom patterns observed here indicates that different ‘spring bloom' models can aptly describe the behavior of different phytoplankton taxa at a single geographical location. These findings provide insight into the subdivision of niche space by phytoplankton and may lead to improved predictions of phytoplankton responses to changes in ocean conditions.
phytoplankton; marine; T-RFLP; plastid; BATS
A fundamental issue in microbial and general ecology is the question to what extent environmental conditions dictate the structure of communities and the linkages with functional properties of ecosystems (that is, ecosystem function). We approached this question by taking advantage of environmental gradients established in soil and sediments of small stream corridors in a recently created, early successional catchment. Specifically, we determined spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial community structure and their linkages with potential microbial enzyme activities along the hydrological flow paths of the catchment. Soil and sediments were sampled in a total of 15 sites on four occasions spread throughout a year. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) was used to characterize bacterial communities, and substrate analogs linked to fluorescent molecules served to track 10 different enzymes as specific measures of ecosystem function. Potential enzyme activities varied little among sites, despite contrasting environmental conditions, especially in terms of water availability. Temporal changes, in contrast, were pronounced and remarkably variable among the enzymes tested. This suggests much greater importance of temporal dynamics than spatial heterogeneity in affecting specific ecosystem functions. Most strikingly, bacterial community structure revealed neither temporal nor spatial patterns. The resulting disconnect between bacterial community structure and potential enzyme activities indicates high functional redundancy within microbial communities even in the physically and biologically simplified stream corridors of early successional landscapes.
bacterial community structure; biodiversity and ecosystem function; Chicken Creek; enzyme activity; soil; stream sediment
Marine cyanobacteria of the genera Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus are the most abundant photosynthetic prokaryotes in oceanic environments, and are key contributors to global CO2 fixation, chlorophyll biomass and primary production. Cyanophages, viruses infecting cyanobacteria, are a major force in the ecology of their hosts. These phages contribute greatly to cyanobacterial mortality, therefore acting as a powerful selective force upon their hosts. Phage reproduction is based on utilization of the host transcription and translation mechanisms; therefore, differences in the G+C genomic content between cyanophages and their hosts could be a limiting factor for the translation of cyanophage genes. On the basis of comprehensive genomic analyses conducted in this study, we suggest that cyanophages of the Myoviridae family, which can infect both Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, overcome this limitation by carrying additional sets of tRNAs in their genomes accommodating AT-rich codons. Whereas the tRNA genes are less needed when infecting their Prochlorococcus hosts, which possess a similar G+C content to the cyanophage, the additional tRNAs may increase the overall translational efficiency of their genes when infecting a Synechococcus host (with high G+C content), therefore potentially enabling the infection of multiple hosts.
codon usage; cross-infectivity; marine cyanophages; Prochlorococcus; Synechococcus; tRNA
Bat flies of the family Nycteribiidae are known for their extreme morphological and physiological traits specialized for ectoparasitic blood-feeding lifestyle on bats, including lack of wings, reduced head and eyes, adenotrophic viviparity with a highly developed uterus and milk glands, as well as association with endosymbiotic bacteria. We investigated Japanese nycteribiid bat flies representing 4 genera, 8 species and 27 populations for their bacterial endosymbionts. From all the nycteribiid species examined, a distinct clade of gammaproteobacteria was consistently detected, which was allied to endosymbionts of other insects such as Riesia spp. of primate lice and Arsenophonus spp. of diverse insects. In adult insects, the endosymbiont was localized in specific bacteriocytes in the abdomen, suggesting an intimate host–symbiont association. In adult females, the endosymbiont was also found in the cavity of milk gland tubules, which suggests uterine vertical transmission of the endosymbiont to larvae through milk gland secretion. In adult females of Penicillidia jenynsii, we discovered a previously unknown type of symbiotic organ in the Nycteribiidae: a pair of large bacteriomes located inside the swellings on the fifth abdominal ventral plate. The endosymbiont genes consistently exhibited adenine/thymine biased nucleotide compositions and accelerated rates of molecular evolution. The endosymbiont genome was estimated to be highly reduced, ∼0.76 Mb in size. The endosymbiont phylogeny perfectly mirrored the host insect phylogeny, indicating strict vertical transmission and host–symbiont co-speciation in the evolutionary course of the Nycteribiidae. The designation ‘Candidatus Aschnera chinzeii' is proposed for the endosymbiont clade.
endosymbiont; nycteribiid bat fly; vertical transmission; adenotrophic viviparity; co-evolution
Quorum sensing (QS) is the regulation of gene expression in response to the concentration of small signal molecules, and its inactivation has been suggested to have great potential to attenuate microbial virulence. It is assumed that unlike antimicrobials, inhibition of QS should cause less Darwinian selection pressure for bacterial resistance. Using the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we demonstrate here that bacterial resistance arises rapidly to the best-characterized compound that inhibits QS (brominated furanone C-30) due to mutations that increase the efflux of C-30. Critically, the C-30-resistant mutant mexR was more pathogenic to Caenorhabditis elegans in the presence of C-30, and the same mutation arises in bacteria responsible for chronic cystic fibrosis infections. Therefore, bacteria may evolve resistance to many new pharmaceuticals thought impervious to resistance.
drug resistance; efflux pump; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; quorum sensing; quorum quenching
Akinetes are dormancy cells commonly found among filamentous cyanobacteria, many of which are toxic and/or nuisance, bloom-forming species. Development of akinetes from vegetative cells is a process that involves morphological and biochemical modifications. Here, we applied a single-cell approach to quantify genome and ribosome content of akinetes and vegetative cells in Aphanizomenon ovalisporum (Cyanobacteria). Vegetative cells of A. ovalisporum were naturally polyploid and contained, on average, eight genome copies per cell. However, the chromosomal content of akinetes increased up to 450 copies, with an average value of 119 genome copies per akinete, 15-fold higher than that in vegetative cells. On the basis of fluorescence in situ hybridization, with a probe targeting 16S rRNA, and detection with confocal laser scanning microscopy, we conclude that ribosomes accumulated in akinetes to a higher level than that found in vegetative cells. We further present evidence that this massive accumulation of nucleic acids in akinetes is likely supported by phosphate supplied from inorganic polyphosphate bodies that were abundantly present in vegetative cells, but notably absent from akinetes. These results are interpreted in the context of cellular investments for proliferation following a long-term dormancy, as the high nucleic acid content would provide the basis for extended survival, rapid resumption of metabolic activity and cell division upon germination.
akinetes; cyanobacteria; fluorescence in situ hybridization; polyphosphate; polyploidy; laser microdissection microscopy
Nitrogen (N) physiology in the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium IMS101 was studied along with transcript accumulation of the N-regulatory gene ntcA and of two of its target genes: napA (nitrate assimilation) and nifH (N2 fixation). N2 fixation was impaired in the presence of nitrite, nitrate and urea. Strain IMS101 was capable of growth on these combined N sources at <2 μ but growth rates declined at elevated concentrations. Assimilation of nitrate and urea was impaired in the presence of ammonium. Whereas ecologically relevant N concentrations (2–20 μ) suppressed growth and assimilation, much higher concentrations were required to affect transcript levels. Transcripts of nifH accumulated under nitrogen-fixing conditions; these transcript levels were maintained in the presence of nitrate (100 μ) and ammonium (20 μ). However, nifH transcript levels were below detection at ammonium concentrations >20 μ. napA mRNA was found at low levels in both N2-fixing and ammonium-utilizing filaments, and it accumulated in filaments grown with nitrate. The positive effect of nitrate on napA transcription was abolished by ammonium additions of >200 μ. This effect was restored upon addition of the glutamine synthetase inhibitor -methionin--sulfoximine. Surprisingly, ntcA transcript levels remained high in the presence of ammonium, even at elevated concentrations. These findings indicate that ammonium repression is decoupled from transcriptional activation of ntcA in Trichodesmium IMS101.
cyanobacteria; Trichodesmium; N assimilation; nitrogen fixation; ntcA
Foregut fermentation occurs in mammalian ruminants and in one bird, the South American folivorous hoatzin. This bird has an enlarged crop with a function analogous to the rumen, where foregut microbes degrade the otherwise indigestible plant matter, providing energy to the host from foregut fermentation, in addition to the fermentation that occurs in their hindguts (cecum/colon). As foregut fermentation represents an evolutionary convergence between hoatzins and ruminants, our aim was to compare the community structure of foregut and hindgut bacterial communities in the cow and hoatzin to evaluate the influences of host phylogeny and organ function in shaping the gut microbiome. The approach used was to hybridize amplified bacterial ribosomal RNA genes onto a high-density microarray (PhyloChip). The results show that the microbial communities cluster primarily by functional environment (foreguts cluster separately from hindguts) and then by host. Bacterial community diversity was higher in the cow than in the hoatzin. Overall, compared with hindguts, foreguts have higher proportions of Bacteroidetes and Spirochaetes, and lower proportions of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The main host differences in gut bacterial composition include a higher representation of Spirochaetes, Synergistetes and Verrucomicrobia in the cow. Despite the significant differences in host phylogeny, body size, physiology and diet, the function seems to shape the microbial communities involved in fermentation. Regardless of the independent origin of foregut fermentation in birds and mammals, organ function has led to convergence of the microbial community structure in phylogenetically distant hosts.
microbiota; foregut; hindgut; hoatzin; cow; PhyloChip
Monterey Bay, CA is an Eastern boundary upwelling system that is nitrogen limited much of the year. In order to resolve population dynamics of microorganisms important for nutrient cycling in this region, we deployed the Environmental Sample Processor with quantitative PCR assays targeting both ribosomal RNA genes and functional genes for subclades of cyanobacteria (Synechococcus) and ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (Thaumarchaeota) populations. Results showed a strong correlation between Thaumarchaea abundances and nitrate during the spring upwelling but not the fall sampling period. In relatively stratified fall waters, the Thaumarchaeota community reached higher numbers than in the spring, and an unexpected positive correlation with chlorophyll concentration was observed. Further, we detected drops in Synechococcus abundance that occurred on short (that is, daily) time scales. Upwelling intensity and blooms of eukaryotic phytoplankton strongly influenced Synechococcus distributions in the spring and fall, revealing what appear to be the environmental limitations of Synechococcus populations in this region. Each of these findings has implications for Monterey Bay biogeochemistry. High-resolution sampling provides a better-resolved framework within which to observe changes in the plankton community. We conclude that controls on these ecosystems change on smaller scales than are routinely assessed, and that more predictable trends will be uncovered if they are evaluated within seasonal (monthly), rather than on annual or interannual scales.
Crenarchaeota; Environmental Sample Processor; Monterey Bay; Synechococcus; Thaumarchaeota; time series
Few studies of microbial biogeography address variability across both multiple habitats and multiple seasons. Here we examine the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton community composition of the Columbia River coastal margin using 16S amplicon pyrosequencing of 300 water samples collected in 2007 and 2008. Communities separated into seven groups (ANOSIM, P<0.001): river, estuary, plume, epipelagic, mesopelagic, shelf bottom (depth<350 m) and slope bottom (depth>850 m). The ordination of these samples was correlated with salinity (ρ=−0.83) and depth (ρ=−0.62). Temporal patterns were obscured by spatial variability among the coastal environments, and could only be detected within individual groups. Thus, structuring environmental factors (for example, salinity, depth) dominate over seasonal changes in determining community composition. Seasonal variability was detected across an annual cycle in the river, estuary and plume where communities separated into two groups, early year (April–July) and late year (August–Nov), demonstrating annual reassembly of communities over time. Determining both the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton communities provides a framework for modeling these communities across environmental gradients from river to deep ocean.
coastal ocean; Columbia River; gradient; spatial variability; 16S amplicon pyrosequencing; temporal variability
Marine sponges are well known for their associations with highly diverse, yet very specific and often highly similar microbiota. The aim of this study was to identify potential bacterial sub-populations in relation to sponge phylogeny and sampling sites and to define the core bacterial community. 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing was applied to 32 sponge species from eight locations around the world's oceans, thereby generating 2567 operational taxonomic units (OTUs at the 97% sequence similarity level) in total and up to 364 different OTUs per sponge species. The taxonomic richness detected in this study comprised 25 bacterial phyla with Proteobacteria, Chloroflexi and Poribacteria being most diverse in sponges. Among these phyla were nine candidate phyla, six of them found for the first time in sponges. Similarity comparison of bacterial communities revealed no correlation with host phylogeny but a tropical sub-population in that tropical sponges have more similar bacterial communities to each other than to subtropical sponges. A minimal core bacterial community consisting of very few OTUs (97%, 95% and 90%) was found. These microbes have a global distribution and are probably acquired via environmental transmission. In contrast, a large species-specific bacterial community was detected, which is represented by OTUs present in only a single sponge species. The species-specific bacterial community is probably mainly vertically transmitted. It is proposed that different sponges contain different bacterial species, however, these bacteria are still closely related to each other explaining the observed similarity of bacterial communities in sponges in this and previous studies. This global analysis represents the most comprehensive study of bacterial symbionts in sponges to date and provides novel insights into the complex structure of these unique associations.
biogeography; candidate phyla; core microbiota; bacterial diversity; marine sponges; 454-pyrosequencing
Cells maintain an osmotic pressure essential for growth and division, using organic compatible solutes and inorganic ions. Mg2+, which is the most abundant divalent cation in living cells, has not been considered an osmotically important solute. Here we show that under carbon limitation or dormancy native marine bacterial communities have a high cellular concentration of Mg2+ (370–940 m) and a low cellular concentration of Na+ (50–170 m). With input of organic carbon, the average cellular concentration of Mg2+ decreased 6–12-fold, whereas that of Na+ increased ca 3–4-fold. The concentration of chlorine, which was in the range of 330–1200 m and was the only inorganic counterion of quantitative significance, balanced and followed changes in the concentration of Mg2++Na+. In an osmotically stable environment, like seawater, any major shift in bacterial osmolyte composition should be related to shifts in growth conditions, and replacing organic compatible solutes with inorganic solutes is presumably a favorable strategy when growing in carbon-limited condition. A high concentration of Mg2+ in cells may also serve to protect and stabilize macromolecules during periods of non-growth and dormancy. Our results suggest that Mg2+ has a major role as osmolyte in marine bacteria, and that the [Mg2+]/[Na+] ratio is related to its physiological condition and nutritional status. Bacterial degradation is a main sink for dissolved organic carbon in the ocean, and understanding the mechanisms limiting bacterial activity is therefore essential for understanding the oceanic C-cycle. The [Mg2+]/[Na+]-ratio in cells may provide a physiological proxy for the transitions between C-limited and mineral nutrient-limited bacterial growth in the ocean's surface layer.
dormancy; nutritional status; marine bacteria; magnesium
Because of severe abiotic limitations, Antarctic soils represent simplified systems, where microorganisms are the principal drivers of nutrient cycling. This relative simplicity makes these ecosystems particularly vulnerable to perturbations, like global warming, and the Antarctic Peninsula is among the most rapidly warming regions on the planet. However, the consequences of the ongoing warming of Antarctica on microorganisms and the processes they mediate are unknown. Here, using 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing and qPCR, we report highly consistent responses in microbial communities across disparate sub-Antarctic and Antarctic environments in response to 3 years of experimental field warming (+0.5 to 2 °C). Specifically, we found significant increases in the abundance of fungi and bacteria and in the Alphaproteobacteria-to-Acidobacteria ratio, which could result in an increase in soil respiration. Furthermore, shifts toward generalist bacterial communities following warming weakened the linkage between the bacterial taxonomic and functional richness. GeoChip microarray analyses also revealed significant warming effects on functional communities, specifically in the N-cycling microorganisms. Our results demonstrate that soil microorganisms across a range of sub-Antarctic and Antarctic environments can respond consistently and rapidly to increasing temperatures.
Antarctica; carbon cycle; GeoChip microarrays; global warming; nitrogen cycle; open-top chambers
Protists are ubiquitous members of soil microbial communities, but the structure of these communities, and the factors that influence their diversity, are poorly understood. We used barcoded pyrosequencing to survey comprehensively the diversity of soil protists from 40 sites across a broad geographic range that represent a variety of biome types, from tropical forests to deserts. In addition to taxa known to be dominant in soil, including Cercozoa and Ciliophora, we found high relative abundances of groups such as Apicomplexa and Dinophyceae that have not previously been recognized as being important components of soil microbial communities. Soil protistan communities were highly diverse, approaching the extreme diversity of their bacterial counterparts across the same sites. Like bacterial taxa, protistan taxa were not globally distributed, and the composition of these communities diverged considerably across large geographic distances. However, soil protistan and bacterial communities exhibit very different global-scale biogeographical patterns, with protistan communities strongly structured by climatic conditions that regulate annual soil moisture availability.
biodiversity; biogeography; microbial ecology; soil protists
Bacteriophages are the most abundant biological life forms on Earth. However, relatively little is known regarding which bacteriophages infect and exploit which bacteria. A recent meta-analysis showed that empirically measured phage-bacteria infection networks are often significantly nested, on average, and not modular. A perfectly nested network is one in which phages can be ordered from specialist to generalist such that the host range of a given phage is a subset of the host range of the subsequent phage in the ordering. The same meta-analysis hypothesized that modularity, in which groups of phages specialize on distinct groups of hosts, should emerge at larger geographic and/or taxonomic scales. In this paper, we evaluate the largest known phage-bacteria interaction data set, representing the interaction of 215 phage types with 286 host types sampled from geographically separated sites in the Atlantic Ocean. We find that this interaction network is highly modular. In addition, some of the modules identified in this data set are nested or contain submodules, indicating the presence of multi-scale structure, as hypothesized in the earlier meta-analysis. We examine the role of geography in driving these patterns and find evidence that the host range of phages and the phage permissibility of bacteria is driven, in part, by geographic separation. We conclude by discussing approaches to disentangle the roles of ecology and evolution in driving complex patterns of interaction between phages and bacteria.
microbial ecology; viruses; biogeography; networks