AME 60:97-108 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01406

Periodic sulfide irruptions impact microbial community structure and diversity in the water column of a hypersaline lake

Brandon K. Swan1,4, Kristen M. Reifel2, David L. Valentine3,*

1Marine Science Program and Department of Earth Science, University of California, 1006 Webb Hall, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
2Graduate Program in Marine Environmental Biology, Department of Biology, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, California 90089, USA
3Department of Earth Science and Marine Science Institute, University of California, 1006 Webb Hall, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
4Present address: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 180 McKown Point Road, PO Box 475, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The occurrence of hypoxia/anoxia and sulfide formation in productive lakes, enclosed seas, and the coastal ocean often results in catastrophic loss of plankton, benthic invertebrates, and fish populations. Sulfide formed in deeper waters is mixed upward due to storm events or currents, thereby removing oxygen from large portions of the water column. Although the deleterious effects of these events on many organisms are known, the effects on microbial communities have received less attention. Archaeal and bacterial community structure and diversity were investigated at 6 stations along 2 intersecting transects passing through a sulfide-rich plume formed in the moderately hypersaline Salton Sea, California, USA. Community structure analysis clearly distinguished samples within and outside the sulfide plume, and multivariate analyses found these patterns to be correlated with sulfide concentration. Cloning and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes revealed that Actinobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria (purple sulfur bacteria), and Chlorobi (green sulfur bacteria) were more prevalent at stations with higher sulfide concentration, and Synechococcus spp. was the most abundant bacterial lineage at most stations. Archaeal diversity was low, and sequences were affiliated with Methanohalophilus spp., Methanococcoides spp., Methanosarcinales spp., many of which are related to known methylotrophs, and Marine Benthic Group (MBG)-D sequences. Compositional differences detected between stations may reflect differential tolerances or utilization of sulfide and other reduced-sulfur compounds by the planktonic microbial community.


KEY WORDS: Microbial diversity · Sulfide oxidation · Methylotrophy · Dimethylsulfide · Dimethylsulfoniopropionate · Gypsum precipitation · Water column anoxia · Hypersaline lake


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Cite this article as: Swan BK, Reifel KM, Valentine DL (2010) Periodic sulfide irruptions impact microbial community structure and diversity in the water column of a hypersaline lake. Aquat Microb Ecol 60:97-108. https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01406

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