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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 13;8(6):e66968. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066968. Print 2013.

Temporal and spatial diversity of bacterial communities in coastal waters of the South china sea.

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State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


Bacteria are recognized as important drivers of biogeochemical processes in all aquatic ecosystems. Temporal and geographical patterns in ocean bacterial communities have been observed in many studies, but the temporal and spatial patterns in the bacterial communities from the South China Sea remained unexplored. To determine the spatiotemporal patterns, we generated 16S rRNA datasets for 15 samples collected from the five regularly distributed sites of the South China Sea in three seasons (spring, summer, winter). A total of 491 representative sequences were analyzed by MOTHUR, yielding 282 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) grouped at 97% stringency. Significant temporal variations of bacterial diversity were observed. Richness and diversity indices indicated that summer samples were the most diverse. The main bacterial group in spring and summer samples was Alphaproteobacteria, followed by Cyanobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria, whereas Cyanobacteria dominated the winter samples. Spatial patterns in the samples were observed that samples collected from the coastal (D151, D221) waters and offshore (D157, D1512, D224) waters clustered separately, the coastal samples harbored more diverse bacterial communities. However, the temporal pattern of the coastal site D151 was contrary to that of the coastal site D221. The LIBSHUFF statistics revealed noticeable differences among the spring, summer and winter libraries collected at five sites. The UPGMA tree showed there were temporal and spatial heterogeneity of bacterial community composition in coastal waters of the South China Sea. The water salinity (P=0.001) contributed significantly to the bacteria-environment relationship. Our results revealed that bacterial community structures were influenced by environmental factors and community-level changes in 16S-based diversity were better explained by spatial patterns than by temporal patterns.

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