Inter-Research > MEPS > v417 > p13-25  
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 417:13-25 (2010)  -  DOI:

Spatial and temporal variability in nitrogenase activity and diazotrophic community composition in coastal microbial mats

Ina Severin1, Lucas J. Stal1,2,*

1Department of Marine Microbiology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW, PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Department of Aquatic Microbiology, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94062, 1090 GB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Coastal microbial mats are highly diverse micro-scale ecosystems in an environment characterized by strongly fluctuating conditions. Nitrogen (N) fixation is an important process in these often N-limited ecosystems. We investigated the characteristics of N2 fixation and the composition of the N2-fixing (diazotrophic) community in 3 microbial mats situated along an intertidal gradient over a period of 3 yr by using the acetylene reduction assay and by analyzing more than 800 environmental nifH sequences. In 2008, nitrogenase activity (NA) in the 3 mat types differed with respect to the daily pattern and daily integrated rates (ranging from 5 to almost 150 mmol C2H4 m–2 d–1). The diazotrophic community composition in the 3 mat types was also dissimilar. The nifH clone libraries at the location that was most influenced by freshwater contained mostly cyanobacterial and alphaproteobacterial sequences, whereas the other 2 locations were dominated by gamma- and deltaproteobacterial diazotrophs. These differences were attributed to the specific environmental conditions at each location resulting from their position along the intertidal gradient and likely caused the differences in the recorded patterns of N2 fixation. Moreover, in each of the mat types, a dramatic shift in the diazotrophic community was observed over a period of 2 to 3 yr. These shifts varied greatly between the locations. The characteristics of NA at the same location in different years also varied considerably. N2 fixation in these microbial mats was spatially and temporally variable, which was attributed to the shifts in diazotrophic community composition along the littoral gradient and during the 3 yr of investigation.

KEY WORDS: Microbial mats · Nitrogenase activity · Diazotrophic community

Full text in pdf format 
Cite this article as: Severin I, Stal LJ (2010) Spatial and temporal variability in nitrogenase activity and diazotrophic community composition in coastal microbial mats. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 417:13-25.

Export citation
RSS - Facebook - - linkedIn