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High Bacterial Diversity in Epilithic Biofilms of Oligotrophic Mountain Lakes

AuthorsBartrons, Mireia ; Catalán, Jordi; Casamayor, Emilio O.
Issue Date24-May-2012
CitationMicrobial Ecology 64 : 860-869 (2012)
AbstractBenthic microbial biofilms attached to rocks (epilithic) are major sites of carbon cycling and can dominate ecosystem primary production in oligotrophic lakes. We studied the bacterial community composition of littoral epilithic biofilms in five connected oligotrophic high mountain lakes located at different altitudes by genetic fingerprinting and clone libraries of the 16S rRNA gene. Different intra-lake samples were analyzed, and consistent changes in community structure (chlorophyll a and organic matter contents, and bacterial community composition) were observed along the altitudinal gradient, particularly related with the location of the lake above or below the treeline. Epilithic biofilm genetic fingerprints were both more diverse among lakes than within lakes and significantly different between montane (below the tree line) and alpine lakes (above the tree line). The genetic richness in the epilithic biofilm was much higher than in the plankton of the same lacustrine area studied in previous works, with significantly idiosyncratic phylogenetic composition (specifically distinct from lake plankton or mountain soils). Data suggest the coexistence of aerobic, anaerobic, phototrophic, and chemotrophic microorganisms in the biofilm, Bacteroidetes and Cyanobacteria being the most important bacterial taxa, followed by Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltaproteobacteria, Chlorobi, Planctomycetes, and Verrucomicrobia. The degree of novelty was especially high for epilithic Bacteroidetes, and up to 50 % of the sequences formed monophyletic clusters distantly related to any previously reported sequence. More than 35 % of the total sequences matched at <95 % identity to any previously reported 16S rRNA gene, indicating that alpine epilithic biofilms are unexplored habitats that contain a substantial degree of novelty within a short geographical distance. Further research is needed to determine whether these communities are involved in more biogeochemical pathways than previously thought.
Description10 páginas, 6 figuras, 1 tabla.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-012-0072-4
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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