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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 41:91-102 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/ame041091

Microbial diversity in a Pacific Ocean transect from the Arctic to Antarctic circles

Amy J. Baldwin1, Joseph A. Moss1, Joseph D. Pakulski1, Phillipe Catala2, Fabien Joux2, Wade H. Jeffrey1, *

1Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation, University of West Florida, Building 58, 11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514 (850) 474-2472, USA
2Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Biologique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS UMR7621, BP 44, 66651 Banyuls-sur-Mer Cedex, France
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Microbial diversity in surface waters was examined along a ~15400 km transect of the Pacific Ocean from 70°N to 68°S latitude between late August and early November 2003. Comparative microbial diversity was determined using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of PCR amplified 16S and 18S rDNA restriction digested with CfoI and MspI. Bacterial numbers and total chlorophyll were greatest at higher latitudes in both hemispheres, with a smaller peak in equatorial waters. Flow cytometry analysis indicated a strong peak in Prochlorococcus from approximately 30°N to 30°S. Richness at each station was relatively low, with ~11 prokaryotic peaks per sample and ~12 eukaryotic peaks per community. Overall, prokaryotic populations appeared more diverse, with 181 total terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs) generated, while eukaryotic populations produced a total of 135 T-RFs. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic similarity dendrograms revealed 4 distinct cluster groups relating to regions sub-Arctic/Arctic, temperate, tropical and sub-Antarctic/Antarctic. T-RFLP patterns suggest that microbial communities may be influenced by ambient water temperature, with mid-latitudinal and equatorial communities more similar in composition to each other than to cold water communities. Global distribution of prokaryotic communities revealed an average inter-group similarity of ~52%, while eukaryotic communities showed ~51% similarity, implying that Pacific planktonic communities appear to be fairly homogenous in composition. Several T-RFs were ubiquitously distributed and contributed significantly to each cluster group, while several T-RFs were observed to be endemic to particular oceanic regions. Within-group similarities of >70% were attributed to 12–14 T-RFs and 8–11 T-RFs in prokaryotic and eukaryotic profiles, respectively, suggesting that a small number of phylogenetic groups were responsible for each cluster group.

KEY WORDS: Microbial diversity · Pacific Ocean · T-RFLP · 16S rDNA · 18S rDNA · Biogeographical distribution

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