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ISME J. 2014 Jan;8(1):245-8. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.178. Epub 2013 Oct 17.

Seasonal microbial community dynamics correlate with phytoplankton-derived polysaccharides in surface coastal waters.

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Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, UK.


Phytoplankton produce large amounts of polysaccharide gel material known as transparent exopolymer particles (TEP). We investigated the potential links between phytoplankton-derived TEP and microbial community structure in the sea surface microlayer and underlying water at the English Channel time-series station L4 during a spring diatom bloom, and in two adjacent estuaries. Major changes in bacterioneuston and bacterioplankton community structure occurred after the peak of the spring bloom at L4, and coincided with the significant decline of microlayer and water column TEP. Increased abundance of Flavobacteriales and Rhodobacterales in bacterioneuston and bacterioplankton communities at L4 was significantly related to the TEP decline, indicating that both taxa could be responsible. The results suggest that TEP is an important factor in determining microbial diversity in coastal waters, and that TEP utilisation could be a niche occupied by Flavobacteriales and Rhodobacterales.

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