Long-term seasonal and interannual variability of marine aerobic anoxygenic photoheterotrophic bacteria
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research / School of Science
We studied the long-term temporal dynamics of the aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic (AAP) bacteria, a relevant functional group in the coastal marine microbial food web, using high-throughput sequencing of the pufM gene coupled with multivariate, time series and co-occurrence analyses at the Blanes Bay Microbial Observatory (NW Mediterranean). Additionally, using metagenomics, we tested whether the used primers captured accurately the seasonality of the most relevant AAP groups. Phylogroup K (Gammaproteobacteria) was the greatest contributor to community structure over all seasons, with phylogroups E and G (Alphaproteobacteria) being prevalent in spring. Diversity indices showed a clear seasonal trend, with maximum values in winter, which was inverse to that of AAP abundance. Multivariate analyses revealed sample clustering by season, with a relevant proportion of the variance explained by day length, temperature, salinity, phototrophic nanoflagellate abundance, chlorophyll a, and silicate concentration. Time series analysis showed robust rhythmic patterns of co-occurrence, but distinct seasonal behaviors within the same phylogroup, and even within different amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) conforming the same operational taxonomic unit (OTU). Altogether, our results picture the AAP assemblage as highly seasonal and recurrent but containing ecotypes showing distinctive temporal niche partitioning, rather than being a cohesive functional group.