Recurring patterns in bacterioplankton dynamics during coastal spring algae blooms

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From: eLife(Vol. 5)
Publisher: eLife Science Publications, Ltd.
Document Type: Report
Length: 19,838 words
Lexile Measure: 1510L

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Abstract :

A process of global importance in carbon cycling is the remineralization of algae biomass by heterotrophic bacteria, most notably during massive marine algae blooms. Such blooms can trigger secondary blooms of planktonic bacteria that consist of swift successions of distinct bacterial clades, most prominently members of the Flavobacteriia, Gammaproteobacteria and the alphaproteobacterial Roseobacter clade. We investigated such successions during spring phytoplankton blooms in the southern North Sea (German Bight) for four consecutive years. Dense sampling and high-resolution taxonomic analyses allowed the detection of recurring patterns down to the genus level. Metagenome analyses also revealed recurrent patterns at the functional level, in particular with respect to algal polysaccharide degradation genes. We, therefore, hypothesize that even though there is substantial inter-annual variation between spring phytoplankton blooms, the accompanying succession of bacterial clades is largely governed by deterministic principles such as substrate-induced forcing. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.11888.001 eLife digest Small algae in the world's oceans remove about as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as land plants. These algae do not grow continuously, but often surge in numbers during temporary blooms. Such blooms can be large enough to be seen from space by satellites. The lifespan of algae within such blooms is short, and when they die, marine bacteria feed on the remnants, which releases much of the stored carbon dioxide. Much of an algal cell consists of different types of polysaccharides. These large molecules are essentially made from sugars linked together. Polysaccharides are varied molecules and can contain many different sugars that can be linked in a number of different ways. During algae blooms bacteria proliferate that are specialized in the degradation of these polysaccharides. In 2012, researchers reported how over the progression of an algae bloom different groups of marine bacteria bloomed in rapid succession. However, it remained unknown whether the same or different groups of bacteria respond to algae blooms at the same place from year to year, and whether or not these bacteria use the same enzymes to degrade the polysaccharides. Teeling, Fuchs et al. -- who include many of the researchers from the 2012 study -- now report on the analysis of a series of algae blooms that occurred in the southern North Sea between 2009 and 2012. The analysis is based on samples collected every week during the spring seasons, and shows that certain groups of related bacteria, known as clades, became common during each bloom. Teeling, Fuchs et al. also found indications that the clades that repeatedly occurred had similar sets of genes for degrading algal polysaccharides, but that the sets were different between the clades. These data suggest that there is a specialized bacterial community that together can degrade the complex mixture of algal polysaccharides during blooms. This community reappears each year with an unexpectedly low level of variation. Since different species of algae made up the blooms in each year, this finding suggests that the major polysaccharides in these algae are similar or even identical. Future work will focus on the specific activities of bacterial enzymes that are needed to degrade polysaccharides during algae blooms. Study of these enzymes in the laboratory will help to resolve, which polysaccharides are attacked in which manner, and to ultimately help to identify the most abundant algal polysaccharides. This will improve our current understanding of the carbon cycle in the world's oceans. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.11888.002

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A473408510