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ISME J. 2009 Aug;3(8):903-15. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.35. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Temporal variation of Synechococcus clades at a coastal Pacific Ocean monitoring site.

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Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093-0202, USA.


Marine cyanobacteria from the genus Synechococcus are found throughout the world's oceans and are important contributors to global primary productivity and carbon cycling. Cultured isolates and environmental DNA clone libraries of Synechococcus have demonstrated the diversity of these microbes. However, the natural distribution of this diversity through space and time and the ecological significance of their distribution are still poorly understood. To understand the seasonal dynamics of Synechococcus diversity, we have developed a quantitative PCR strategy using the gene encoding as a subunit of DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (rpoC1) and applied it to a 3-year time series of surface samples from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier (La Jolla, CA, USA), a coastal site in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Synechococcus from clades I and IV were dominant throughout the time series and correlated with total Synechococcus abundance. The relative abundance of these two dominant clades showed evidence of a seasonal cycle. Synechococcus from clade IV were typically more abundant, but those from clade I dominated during periods just before the annual spring bloom of Synechococcus. Synechococcus from clades II and III were absent during spring and early summer, but appeared at low abundances in late summer and winter possibly due to changes in circulation in the Southern California Bight. As the first long-term time series describing Synechococcus population diversity, these temporal dynamics were used to interpret the genetic/genomic diversity observed in the environment and the potential factors regulating their distribution.

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