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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 71 No. 1 - Feature article
CTD array and scanning electron micrograph (inset) of bacterioplankton from a 40 m sample collected on a 0.2 µm filter. Photo: Craig Carlson; inset: Yanlin Zhao and the Oregon State University Electron Microscope Facility.

Vergin KL, Done B, Carlson CA, Giovannoni SJ


Spatiotemporal distributions of rare bacterioplankton populations indicate adaptive strategies in the oligotrophic ocean


Many marine bacterioplankton taxa cycle between rarity and abundance over the course of the year. These oscillations affect basic ecosystem functions such as photosynthesis and carbon sequestration. Vergin and co-workers studied these populations at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site, in the northwestern Sargasso Sea, using next generation sequencing technology. The new technology allowed them to track rare populations with the same precision that previously had been used to track more abundant bacterioplankton. Even taxa that were not dominant showed regular seasonal cycles, but some rare taxa behaved differently. Many well-known bacterial taxa, such as the genera Vibrio and Alteromonas, fluctuated randomly suggesting that some bacterioplankton have evolved adaptations to exploit previously unrecognized random disturbances of plankton communities.


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