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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Feb;83(2):413-24. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12003. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Temporal dynamics in the free-living bacterial community composition in the coastal North Sea.

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Department of Biological Oceanography, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, The Netherlands.


The coastal North Sea is characterized by strong seasonal dynamics in abiotic and biotic variables. Hence, pronounced temporal changes in the bacterioplankton community composition can be expected. Catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis showed a seasonal succession, with Alphaproteobacteria dominating before the spring phytoplankton bloom, Bacteroidetes increasing during the bloom (up to 60% of the prokaryotic community) and being replaced by Gammaproteobacteria during the postbloom period (on average 30% of prokaryotic cells). Daily changes in similarity of the bacterioplankton community assessed by Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism averaged 0.08 day(-1) (Whittaker similarity index) for the free-living bacterial community, resulting in a decreasing similarity between samples with increasing time up to approximately 150 days. After about 150 days, the community composition became increasingly similar to the initial composition. Changes in the bacterial community showed periods of fairly stable composition, interrupted by periods of rapid changes. Taken together, our results support the notion of a recurring bacterioplankton community in the coastal North Sea and indicate a tight coupling between the resources, the bacterial community metabolism, physiological structure and community composition throughout the seasonal cycle in the coastal North Sea.

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