These authors have contributed equally to this work.The Southern Ocean is currently subject to intense investigations, mainly related to its importance for global biogeochemical cycles and its alarming rate of warming in response to climate change. Microbes play an essential role in the functioning of this ecosystem and are the main drivers of the biogeochemical cycling of elements. Yet, the diversity and abundance of microorganisms in this system remain poorly studied, in particular with regards to changes along environmental gradients. Here, we used amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene tags using primers covering both Bacteria and Archaea to assess the composition and diversity of the microbial communities from four sampling depths (surface, the maximum and minimum of the oxygen concentration, and near the seafloor) at 10 oceanographic stations located in Bransfield Strait [northwest of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP)] and near the sea ice edge (north of the AP). Samples collected near the seafloor and at the oxygen minimum exhibited a higher diversity than those from the surface and oxygen maximum for both bacterial and archaeal communities. The main taxonomic groups identified below 100 m were Thaumarchaeota, Euryarchaeota and Proteobacteria (Gamma-, Delta-, Beta-, and Alphaproteobacteria), whereas in the mixed layer above 100 m Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria (mainly Alpha-and Gammaproteobacteria) were found to be dominant. A combination of environmental factors seems to influence the microbial community composition. Our results help to understand how the dynamic seascape of the Southern Ocean shapes the microbial community composition and set a baseline for upcoming studies to evaluate the response of this ecosystem to future changes.
Active volcanoes in Antarctica contrast with their predominantly cold surroundings, resulting in environmental conditions capable of selecting for versatile and extremely diverse microbial communities. This is especially true on Deception Island, where geothermal, marine, and polar environments combine to create an extraordinary range of environmental conditions. Our main goal in this study was to understand how microbial community structure is shaped by gradients of temperature, salinity, and geochemistry in polar marine volcanoes. Thereby, we collected surface sediment samples associated with fumaroles and glaciers at two sites on Deception, with temperatures ranging from 0 to 98°C. Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene was performed to assess the composition and diversity of Bacteria and Archaea. Our results revealed that Deception harbors a combination of taxonomic groups commonly found both in cold and geothermal environments of continental Antarctica, and also groups normally identified at deep and shallow-sea hydrothermal vents, such as hyperthermophilic archaea. We observed a clear separation in microbial community structure across environmental gradients, suggesting that microbial community structure is strongly niche driven on Deception. Bacterial community structure was significantly associated with temperature, pH, salinity, and chemical composition; in contrast, archaeal community structure was strongly associated only with temperature. Our work suggests that Deception represents a peculiar “open-air” laboratory to elucidate central questions regarding molecular adaptability, microbial evolution, and biogeography of extremophiles in polar regions.
Important findings from the second decade of the 21st century on the impact of environmental change on biological processes in the Antarctic were synthesised by 26 international experts. Ten key messages emerged that have stakeholderrelevance and/or a high impact for the scientific community. They address (i) altered biogeochemical cycles, (ii) ocean
Microorganisms dominate most Antarctic marine ecosystems, in terms of biomass and taxonomic diversity, and play crucial role in ecosystem functioning due to their high metabolic plasticity. Admiralty Bay is the largest bay on King George Island (South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula) and a combination of hydro-oceanographic characteristics (bathymetry, sea ice and glacier melting, seasonal entrance of water masses, turbidity, vertical fluxes) create conditions favoring organic carbon deposition on the seafloor and microbial activities. We sampled surface sediments from 15 sites across Admiralty Bay (100–502 m total depth) and the adjacent North Bransfield Basin (693–1147 m), and used the amplicon 454-sequencing of 16S rRNA gene tags to compare the bacterial composition, diversity, and microbial community structure across environmental parameters (sediment grain size, pigments and organic nutrients) between the two areas. Marine sediments had a high abundance of heterotrophic Gammaproteobacteria (92.4% and 83.8% inside and outside the bay, respectively), followed by Alphaproteobacteria (2.5 and 5.5%), Firmicutes (1.5 and 1.6%), Bacteroidetes (1.1 and 1.7%), Deltaproteobacteria (0.8 and 2.5%) and Actinobacteria (0.7 and 1.3%). Differences in alpha-diversity and bacterial community structure were found between the two areas, reflecting the physical and chemical differences in the sediments, and the organic matter input.
To investigate how pico-and nano-plankton respond to oceanographic conditions in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, we assessed the influence of a summer intrusion of the South Atlantic Central Water (SACW) on the spatial and vertical dynamics of planktonic abundance and carbon biomass across environmental gradients. Seawater samples were collected from six depths within the euphotic zone at nine oceanographic stations in a transect on the Brazilian continental shelf in January 2013. The abundance of pico-and nano-plankton populations was determined by flow cytometry, and carbon biomass was calculated based on conversion factors from the literature. The autotrophic Synechococcus spp., picoeukaryotes, and nanoeukaryotes were more abundant in the surface layers of the innermost stations influenced by Coastal Water (maximum of 1.19 × 10 5 , 1.5 × 10 4 , and 8.61 × 10 3 cell·mL −1 , respectively), whereas Prochlorococcus spp. dominated (max. of 6.57 × 10 4 cell·mL −1 ) at the outermost stations influenced by Tropical Water and in the uplifting layers of the SACW around a depth of 100 m. Numerically, heterotrophic bacterial populations were predominant, with maximum concentrations (2.11 × 10 6 cell·mL −1 ) recorded in the surface layers of the inner and mid shelves in Coastal Water and the upper limits of the SACW. Nutrient-rich (high silicate and phosphate) and relatively less saline waters enhanced the picoeukaryotic biomass, while Synechococcus and heterotrophic bacteria were linked to higher temperatures, lower salinities, and higher inputs of ammonia and dissolved organic carbon. The relative importance of each group to carbon biomass partitioning under upwelling conditions is led by heterotrophic bacteria, followed by picoeukaryotes, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, and when the SACW is not as influential, the relative contribution of each phytoplanktonic group is more evenly distributed. In addition to habitat preferences, the physical structure of oligotrophic waters has a large impact on the vertical and spatial distribution patterns of picoplankton, reflecting the strong effect of the SACW intrusion.
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