Inter-annual recurrence of archaeal assemblages in the coastal NW Mediterranean Sea (Blanes Bay Microbial Observatory)

Galand, Pierre E., Carmen GutiƩrrez-Provecho, Ramon Massana, Josep M. Gasol, and Emilio O. Casamayor

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(5), 2010, 2117-2125 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.5.2125

ABSTRACT: We report a long-term (i.e., 4.5 consecutive yr) monitoring of surface marine archaeal assemblages of the coastal Mediterranean Sea using quantitative polymerase chain reaction against specific phylogenetic and functional genes, and, for some specific samples, clone libraries of the 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene. Archaea had a marked seasonal periodicity, with recurrent peaks of abundance in December and January and very low occurrence during summer, parallel to temporal changes in community composition. Group II.b Euryarchaeota sequences were mostly present during winter when water was nutrient-enriched, and phytoplankton were abundant. Group II.a sequences were, in turn, more abundant during summer when the water column is stratified, and nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton stocks were lower. Group I Crenarchaeota abundance was highest during winter and significantly correlated with that of archaeal ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) gene copies and nitrite concentrations, suggesting that Group I Crenarchaeota were ammonia oxidizers. The periodicity of archaeal assemblages matched the strong and predictable seasonality of the surface-water conditions in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, and suggests a low degree of functional redundancy between archaeal groups. The distinct seasonal dynamics for Group II.a and II.b Euryarchaeota, and their close association with major ecosystem processes, indicate that they may play an important but as yet largely unknown role in the ocean.

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