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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 48:47-60 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/ame048047

Effects of phytoplankton bloom in a coastal ecosystem on the composition of bacterial communities

Beate Rink1, Susanne Seeberger1, Torben Martens1, Claus-Dieter Duerselen2, Meinhard Simon1, Thorsten Brinkhoff1,*

1Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg, PO Box 2503, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany
2AquaEcology, Marie-Curie-Straße 1, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: We studied the composition of free-living and particle-associated bacterial communities during the course of the phytoplankton succession in spring and early summer in the Wadden Sea, a tidal flat ecosystem in the southern North Sea. We applied the denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) approach based on PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments and, in addition to Bacteria-specific primers, used primer sets targeting Alphaproteobacteria, the Roseobacter-clade and the Bacteroidetes phylum. Even though the application of the primer sets targeting Bacteria and Alphaproteobacteria detected some changes, they were most pronounced with those targeting the Roseobacter-clade and Bacteroidetes. The changes were supported by a correspondence analysis, which showed a statistically significant correlation of the DGGE banding patterns of the Roseobacter-specific PCR with the composition of the phytoplankton (p = 0.03). This indicates that changes in the phytoplankton composition in this habitat are not reflected by changes in the most abundant or most readily amplifiable phylotypes. The findings rather suggest that few, specialized, heterotrophic bacteria are most responsive to the organic matter supplied by distinct phytoplankton communities and that the main part of organic matter in the Wadden Sea is utilized by generalists. Sequence analyses of excised bands revealed a high diversity for the Bacteria- and Bacteroidetes-targeted approaches. The bacterial community detected by the primer set targeting Alphaproteobacteria, however, was mainly composed of bacteria affiliated to the Roseobacter-clade.

KEY WORDS: Free-living bacteria · Particle-attached bacteria · Bacteroidetes · Roseobacter · Phytoplankton · Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis · Wadden Sea

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