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ISME J. 2014 Mar;8(3):515-30. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.173. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

Monthly to interannual variability of microbial eukaryote assemblages at four depths in the eastern North Pacific.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
  • 2Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, Maine, USA.
  • 3Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.


The monthly, seasonal and interannual variability of microbial eukaryote assemblages were examined at 5 m, the deep chlorophyll maximum, 150 m and 500 m at the San Pedro Ocean Time-series station (eastern North Pacific). The depths spanned transitions in temperature, light, nutrients and oxygen, and included a persistently hypoxic environment at 500 m. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism was used for the analysis of 237 samples that were collected between September 2000 and December 2010. Spatiotemporal variability patterns of microeukaryote assemblages indicated the presence of distinct shallow and deep communities at the SPOT station, presumably reflecting taxa that were specifically adapted for the conditions in those environments. Community similarity values between assemblages collected 1 month apart at each depth ranged between ∼20% and ∼84% (averages were ∼50-59%). The assemblage at 5 m was temporally more dynamic than deeper assemblages and also displayed substantial interannual variability during the first ∼3 years of the study. Evidence of seasonality was detected for the microbial eukaryote assemblage at 5 m between January 2008 and December 2010 and at 150 m between September 2000 and December 2003. Seasonality was not detected for assemblages at the deep chlorophyll a maximum, which varied in depth seasonally, or at 500 m. Microbial eukaryote assemblages exhibited cyclical patterns in at least 1 year at each depth, implying an annual resetting of communities. Substantial interannual variability was detected for assemblages at all depths and represented the largest source of temporal variability in this temperate coastal ecosystem.

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