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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2011 Jan;75(1):99-110. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2010.00987.x. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Spatially differing bacterial communities in water columns of the northern Baltic Sea.

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DNA Sequencing and Genomics Laboratory, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


The Baltic Sea is a large, shallow, and strongly stratified brackish water basin. It suffers from eutrophication, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, and oxygen depletion, all of which pose a threat to local marine communities. In this study, the diversity and community structure of the northern Baltic Sea bacterial communities in the water column were, for the first time, thoroughly studied by 454 sequencing. The spring and autumn bacterial communities were one order of magnitude less diverse than those in recently studied oceanic habitats. Patchiness and strong stratification were clearly detectable; <1% of operational taxonomic units were shared among 11 samples. The community composition was more uniform horizontally (at a fixed depth) between different sites than vertically within one sampling site, implying that the community structure was affected by prevailing physical and hydrochemical conditions. Taxonomic affiliations revealed a total of 23 bacterial classes and 169 genera, while 5% of the sequences remained unclassified. The cyanobacteria accounted for <2% of the sequences, and potentially toxic cyanobacterial genera were essentially absent during the sampling seasons.

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