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Microb Ecol. 2003 Aug;46(2):228-37.

Comparison of free-living and particle-associated bacterial communities in a coastal lagoon.

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Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, 4670 Physical Sciences North, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131, USA.


We analyzed, by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms (T-RFLPs) of PCR-amplified 16S rDNA, microbial diversity in water collected during the dry and wet seasons in a human-impacted coastal lagoon. Water samples were fractionated by prefiltration to differentiate particle-associated and free-living microbes. From a sample collected during the dry season, prefiltration removed 23 to 44% of bacteria, as assessed by direct counts and MPN, and 99% of phytoplankton, as assessed by chlorophyll a. Restriction with RsaI yielded fewer peaks than restriction with HhaI. Diversity indices calculated from T-RFLPs were higher in the lagoon than adjoining coastal waters and higher in the particle-associated than the free-living fraction. In the dry season, peaks found only in bulk and particle-associated T-RFLPs were consistent with plastid and cyanobacterial ribotypes. These peaks matched those observed in the sequence of a clone generated from the bulk fraction with plastid and cyanobacterial specific primers. This clone appeared related to plastids found in the diatom genus Skeletonema. Principal component analysis of T-RFLPs suggested that the difference between the free-living and particle-associated fractions in the dry season was less than temporal variability in this lagoon and that these fractions varied significantly only in the wet season. This fractionation of microbial populations into particle-associated and free-living guilds during the wet season, when water residence time in the lagoon is relatively low, suggests an external source of particle-associated bacteria such as erosion of upland soils by runoff.

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