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Nat Microbiol. 2016 Aug 15;1(9):16130. doi: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.130.

Surveys, simulation and single-cell assays relate function and phylogeny in a lake ecosystem.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
2
Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.
3
Qiagen Corp., 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
4
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
5
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
6
Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
7
Institute Centre for Water and Environment (iWater), Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, PO Box 54224, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
8
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.

Abstract

Much remains unknown about what drives microbial community structure and diversity. Highly structured environments might offer clues. For example, it may be possible to identify metabolically similar species as groups of organisms that correlate spatially with the geochemical processes they carry out. Here, we use a 16S ribosomal RNA gene survey in a lake that has chemical gradients across its depth to identify groups of spatially correlated but phylogenetically diverse organisms. Some groups had distributions across depth that aligned with the distributions of metabolic processes predicted by a biogeochemical model, suggesting that these groups performed biogeochemical functions. A single-cell genetic assay showed, however, that the groups associated with one biogeochemical process, sulfate reduction, contained only a few organisms that have the genes required to reduce sulfate. These results raise the possibility that some of these spatially correlated groups are consortia of phylogenetically diverse and metabolically different microbes that cooperate to carry out geochemical functions.

PMID:
27562262
DOI:
10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.130
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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