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Microbial plankton form the productive base of both marine and freshwater ecosystems and are key drivers of global biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients. Plankton diversity is immense with representations from all major phyla within the three domains of life. So far, plankton monitoring has mainly been based on microscopic identification, which has limited sensitivity and reproducibility, not least because of the numerical majority of plankton being unidentifiable under the light microscope. High-throughput sequencing of taxonomic marker genes offers a means to identify taxa inaccessible by traditional methods; thus, recent studies have unveiled an extensive previously unknown diversity of plankton. Here, we conducted ultra-deep Illumina sequencing (average 105 sequences/sample) of rRNA gene amplicons of surface water eukaryotic and bacterial plankton communities sampled in summer along a 2000 km transect following the salinity gradient of the Baltic Sea. Community composition was strongly correlated with salinity for both bacterial and eukaryotic plankton assemblages, highlighting the importance of salinity for structuring the biodiversity within this ecosystem. In contrast, no clear trends in alpha-diversity for bacterial or eukaryotic communities could be detected along the transect. The distribution of major planktonic taxa followed expected patterns as observed in monitoring programs, but groups novel to the Baltic Sea were also identified, such as relatives to the coccolithophore Emiliana huxleyi detected in the northern Baltic Sea. This study provides the first ultra-deep sequencing-based survey on eukaryotic and bacterial plankton biogeography in the Baltic Sea.
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Figure 3. Abundance distribution of major bacterial groups across the Baltic Sea salinity gradient. (A) Major bacterial taxonomic groups (>0.1% mean abundance). (B) Dominant Cyanobacteria OTUs (>0.1% mean abundance). In Subsection I (picocyanobacteria), OTU_56 is a Microcystis (a freshwater species), remaining OTUs belong to Synechococcus. In Subsection IV (filamentous cyanobacteria), OTU_777, OTU_49 and OTU_19 belong to Aphanizomenon, Nodularia, and Dolichospermum (syn. Anabaena), respectively. The black curve indicates phycocyanin fluorescence (in arbitrary units). (C) Dominant SAR11 OTUs (>0.1% mean abundance).
Citation: Hu YOO, Karlson B, Charvet S and Andersson AF (2016) Diversity of Pico- to Mesoplankton along the 2000 km Salinity Gradient of the Baltic Sea. Front. Microbiol. 7:679. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00679