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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 23:119-130 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/ame023119

Variations in bacterial community structure during a dinoflagellate bloom analyzed by DGGE and 16S rDNA sequencing

Laura B. Fandino*, Lasse Riemann**, Grieg F. Steward***, Richard A. Long, Farooq Azam

Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 8750 Biological Grade, San Diego, California 92037-0202, USA
*E-mail: Present addresses: **Freshwater Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, 51 Helsingørsgade, 400 Hillerød, Denmark ***Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

ABSTRACT: The relationship between bacterial 16S rRNA gene composition and carbon metabolism was analyzed during an intense dinoflagellate bloom off the Southern California coast during the spring of 1997. Bacterial numbers and rate processes, chlorophyll a, and the dissolved and particulate organic matter pools were measured during the bloom to provide a framework within which to assess bacterial community composition. Free bacteria were numerically dominant, generally comprising >90% of the total, and were responsible for >70% of bacterial production. Attached bacteria had higher cell-specific growth rates than free bacteria (range = 0.5 to 15.1 and 0.7 to 2.5 d-1, respectively) and had hydrolytic ectoenzyme activities at times more than an order of magnitude higher on a per cell basis. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of bacterial community composition indicated that: (1) the free and attached communities were distinct, and (2) marked shifts in bacterial community structure occurred concomitant with the peaks in attached enzyme activities, specific growth rates and DOC concentration. Of the 24 16S rDNA clones analyzed, 7 were related to the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium group, 6 to the α-subclass and 5 to the γ-subclass of the Proteobacteria; 3 were related to oxygenic phototrophs, 2 were heteroduplexes and 1 was a possible chimera. While the a- and γ-proteobacteria predominated in the <1.0 μm fraction, Cytophaga were identified in both the free and attached fractions as well as among bacteria cultured from the same water, without overlap among these groups. The observation that distinct Cytophaga sequences were present in the free versus attached fractions is counter to the current understanding that Cytophaga occupy a principally Œparticle-specialist¹ niche. Our results suggest that some Cytophaga are also important in the decomposition of polymeric organic matter in the dissolved phase with implications for the accumulation of dissolved organic matter and pathways of carbon flow during phytoplankton blooms.

KEY WORDS: Bacteria· Community composition · DGGE · Cell-specific activity · Algal bloom

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