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Microb Ecol. 2009 Aug;58(2):307-22. doi: 10.1007/s00248-008-9482-8. Epub 2009 Jan 24.

Characterization of bacterial communities associated with organic aggregates in a large, shallow, eutrophic freshwater lake (Lake Taihu, China).

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State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China.


Although organic-aggregate-associated bacteria play a pivotal role in microbial food webs and in the cycling of major elements, their community composition and diversity have not been extensively studied, especially in shallow freshwater systems. This study is among the first to explore intra-lake horizontal heterogeneity of organic-aggregate-associated bacterial community composition (OABC) in the large, shallow, and eutrophic Lake Taihu. During November 2006, samples were collected at four locations representing different trophic states and food web structures. Regional variability of OABC and diversity were studied by amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis and comparative analysis of four large 16S ribosomal RNA clone libraries. Our results demonstrate that OABC were numerically dominated by members of the beta-proteobacteria (19.2-38.6%), Bacteroidetes (3.6-20.0%), and alpha-proteobacteria (11.5-19.2%) groups. The dominance of the Bacteroidetes group was related to algae-based aggregates. Horizontal heterogeneity of OABC exists within habitats, suggesting that the trophic state of the water and the physicochemical properties of organic aggregates (OA) play a key role. Diverse bacterial communities found on OA were substantially different from free-living ones. Comparative statistical analyses of the habitats of OA-associated bacteria highlight the potential ecological importance of the exchange between OABC and the surrounding planktonic community. Lastly, we found at least 45% of sequences closely related to ones previously found in soils, sludge, sediments, and other habitats. This demonstrates that microorganisms from terrestrial and sediment habitats are an important component of OA.

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