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Environ Microbiol. 2011 Jan;13(1):116-134. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02314.x.

Time-series analyses of Monterey Bay coastal microbial picoplankton using a 'genome proxy' microarray.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 48-427, 15 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


To investigate the temporal, spatial and phylogenetic resolution of marine microbial community structure and variability, we designed and expanded a genome proxy array (an oligonucleotide microarray targeting marine microbial genome fragments and genomes), evaluated it against metagenomic sequencing, and applied it to time-series samples from the Monterey Bay. The expanded array targeted 268 microbial genotypes across much of the known diversity of cultured and uncultured marine microbes. The target abundances measured by the array were highly correlated to pyrosequence-based abundances (linear regression R(2) = 0.85-0.91, P < 0.0001). Fifty-seven samples from ∼4 years in Monterey Bay were examined with the array, spanning the photic zone (0 m), the base of the surface mixed layer (30 m) and the subphotic zone (200 m). A significant portion of the expanded genome proxy array's targets showed signal (95 out of 268 targets present in ≥ 1 sample). The multi-year community survey showed the consistent presence of a core group of common and abundant targeted taxa at each depth in Monterey Bay, higher variability among shallow than deep samples, and episodic occurrences of more transient marine genotypes. The abundance of the most dominant genotypes peaked after strong episodic upwelling events. The genome-proxy array's ability to track populations of closely related genotypes indicated population shifts within several abundant target taxa, with specific populations in some cases clustering by depth or oceanographic season. Although 51 cultivated organisms were targeted (representing 19% of the array) the majority of targets detected and of total target signal (85% and ∼92% respectively) were from uncultivated genotypes, often those derived from Monterey Bay. The array provided a relatively cost-effective approach (∼$15 per array) for surveying the natural history of uncultivated lineages.

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