AME 25:237-246 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/ame025237

Composition and temporal dynamics of planktonic archaeal assemblages from anaerobic sulfurous environments studied by 16S rDNA denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and sequencing

Emilio O. Casamayor1,*, Gerard Muyzer2,**, Carlos Pedrós-Alió1

1Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CMIMA-CSIC, Pg. Maritim de la Barceloneta, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
2Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstr. 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Present addresses: *Observatoire Ocèanologique de Banyuls-CNRS, BP 44, 66651 Banyuls-sur-Mer, France. E-mail: **Kluyver Institute of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: The planktonic archaeal assemblages of several anaerobic, sulfide-rich, aquatic environments were analyzed in space and time by PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and sequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments. The systems were sampled in different years between 1992 and 1998. PCR products were obtained directly from the original DNA without previous nested amplification and yielded successful fingerprints with mostly sharp bands in the gel. Nineteen samples from the anaerobic hypolimnia of 8 lakes and 1 coastal lagoon in NE Spain, Mallorca and Switzerland were compared and a temporal survey was carried out in one of the lakes (Lake Vilar). Between 4 and 14 well-defined bands appeared. All the sequenced bands belonged to Archaea. Although most of the water bodies shared the same climatic conditions and presence of sulfide, the limnological parameters were different among them and different fingerprints were observed in different lakes. Euryarchaeota, i.e., methanogen- and thermoplasma-related sequences, appeared in all the samples but crenarchaeota were recovered only from Lake Vilar. A temporal shift in the predominant members of the archaeal assemblage from crenarchaeota to members of the cluster of thermoplasmales and relatives took place in Lake Vilar between February and June. Sequences related to thermoplasmales and crenarchaeota were distantly related to cultured strains (81% similarity in 16S rDNA) and clustered with branches represented only by environmental clones, whereas sequences related to methanogens grouped with a sequence from an endosymbiont of 1 anaerobic ciliate. A new branch of freshwater euryarchaeota appeared within the cluster of thermoplasmales and relatives. Our study indicates the presence of dynamic archaeal populations in the water column of nonthermophilic, sulfide-rich environments, further extending the diversity and distribution of Archaea in nature. The temporal shift in community composition in Lake Vilar suggests that Archaea grow under in situ conditions. If this is the case, Archaea would be active players in the anaerobic biogeochemical cycles of these environments.

KEY WORDS: Archaea · DGGE · Fingerprinting · 16S rDNA · Sulfurous lakes · Diversity

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