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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2008 Nov;27(11):2239-45. doi: 10.1897/08-112.1.

Changes in bacterial community structure associated with coastal copper enrichment.

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  • 1Departamento de Genética Molecular y Microbiología, Millennium Nucleus on Microbial Ecology and Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile, Casilla 114-D.


Marine bacterial communities isolated from the water column, sediment, the rock surface, and the green seaweed Ulva compressa were studied in an intertidal ecosystem. The study area included a coastal zone chronically affected by copper mine waste disposals. Bacterial community composition was analyzed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) of 16S rRNA genes, and multivariate analyses of T-RFLP data sets were used for comparisons. Results showed that diversity and richness indexes were not able to detect differences among compartments. However, comparisons within the same compartment clearly showed that copper enrichment was associated with changes in the composition of the bacterial communities and revealed that the magnitude of the effect depends on the compartment being considered. In this context, communities from sediments appeared as the most affected by copper enrichment. The present study also demonstrated that intertidal bacterial communities were dominated by Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria and the changes in these communities were mainly due to changes in their relative abundances.

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