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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Nov;64(11):4299-306.

Seasonal community and population dynamics of pelagic bacteria and archaea in a high mountain lake

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Max-Planck-Institut fur marine Mikrobiologie, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.


The seasonal variations in community structure and cell morphology of pelagic procaryotes from a high mountain lake (Gossenkollesee, Austria) were studied by in situ hybridization with rRNA-targeted fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide probes (FISH) and image-analyzed microscopy. Compositional changes and biomass fluctuations within the assemblage were observed both in summer and beneath the winter ice cover and are discussed in the context of physicochemical and biotic parameters. Proteobacteria of the beta subclass (beta-proteobacteria) formed a dominant fraction of the bacterioplankton (annual mean, 24% of the total counts), whereas alpha-proteobacteria were of similar relative importance only during spring (mean, 11%). Bacteria of the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium cluster, although less abundant, constituted the largest fraction of the filamentous morphotypes during most of the year, thus contributing significantly to the total microbial biomass. Successive peaks of threadlike and rod-shaped archaea were observed during autumn thermal mixing and the period of ice cover formation, respectively. A set of oligonucleotide probes targeted to single phylotypes was constructed from 16S rRNA-encoding gene clone sequences. Three distinct populations of uncultivated microbes, affiliated with the alpha- and beta-proteobacteria, were subsequently monitored by FISH. About one-quarter of all of the beta-proteobacteria (range, 6 to 53%) could be assigned to only two phylotypes. The bacterial populations studied were annually recurrent, seasonally variable, and vertically stratified, except during the periods of lake overturn. Their variability clearly exceeded the fluctuations of the total microbial assemblage, suggesting that the apparent stability of total bacterioplankton abundances may mask highly dynamic community fluctuations.

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