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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2009 Jul;69(1):84-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2009.00692.x. Epub 2009 Apr 27.

Microbial communities in contrasting freshwater marsh microhabitats.

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Department of Aquatic Ecology, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, 6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland.


Heterotrophic microorganisms are widely recognized as crucial components of ecosystems; yet information on their community structure and dynamics in benthic freshwater habitats is notably scarce. Using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), we determined the composition of bacterial and fungal communities in a freshwater marsh over four seasons. DGGE revealed diverse bacterial communities in four contrasting microhabitats. The greatest compositional differences emerged between water-column and surface-associated bacteria, although communities associated with sediment also differed from those on plant litter and epiphytic biofilms. Sequences of bacterial clones derived from DGGE bands belonged to the Alphaproteobacteria (31%), Actinobacteria (19%) and Bacteriodetes (19%). Betaproteobacteria were notably absent. Fungal clones obtained from leaf litter were mainly Ascomycota, but two members of the Basidiomycota were also identified. Overall, habitat type was the most important factor explaining variation in bacterial communities among samples, whereas temporal patterns in community composition were less pronounced in spite of large seasonal variation in environmental conditions such as temperature. The observed differences among bacterial communities in different microhabitats were not caused by random variation, but rather appeared to be determined by habitat characteristics, as evidenced by largely congruent community profiles of replicate samples taken at 10-100 m distances within the marsh.

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