Functional Seasonality of Free-Living and Particle-Associated Prokaryotic Communities in the Coastal Adriatic Sea

Paul A. Steiner, Javier Geijo, Eduard Fadeev, Aleix Obiol, Eva Sintes, Thomas Rattei, Gerhard J. Herndl

Marine snow is an important habitat for microbes, characterized by chemical and physical properties contrasting those of the ambient water. The higher nutrient concentrations in marine snow lead to compositional differences between the ambient water and the marine snow-associated prokaryotic community. Whether these compositional differences vary due to seasonal environmental changes, however, remains unclear. Thus, we investigated the seasonal patterns of the free-living and marine snow-associated microbial community composition and their functional potential in the northern Adriatic Sea. Our data revealed seasonal patterns in both, the free-living and marine snow-associated prokaryotes. The two assemblages were more similar to each other in spring and fall than in winter and summer. The taxonomic distinctness resulted in a contrasting functional potential. Motility and adaptations to low temperature in winter and partly anaerobic metabolism in summer characterized the marine snow-associated prokaryotes. Free-living prokaryotes were enriched in genes indicative for functions related to phosphorus limitation in winter and in genes tentatively supplementing heterotrophic growth with proteorhodopsins and CO-oxidation in summer. Taken together, the results suggest a strong influence of environmental parameters on both free-living and marine snow-associated prokaryotic communities in spring and fall leading to higher similarity between the communities, while the marine snow habitat in winter and summer leads to a specific prokaryotic community in marine snow in these two seasons.

Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science
External organisation(s)
ICM-CSIC, Institut de Ciències del Mar, Utrecht University, Instituto Español de Oceanografía
Frontiers in Microbiology
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106021 Marine biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Microbiology, Microbiology (medical)
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