Phytoplankton succession affects the composition of Polynucleobacter subtypes in humic lakes

Sara F. Paver, Nicholas D. Youngblut, Rachel J. Whitaker, Angela D. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phytoplankton influence the composition of bacterial communities, but the taxonomic specificity of algal-bacterial interactions is unclear due to the aggregation of ecologically distinct bacterial populations by community characterization methods. Here we examine whether phytoplankton seasonal succession affects the composition of subtypes within the cosmopolitan freshwater bacterial genus Polynucleobacter. Changes in the composition of Polynucleobacter subtypes were characterized in samples collected weekly from May to August in 2003 and 2008 from three humic lakes using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism fingerprinting of the protein-encoding cytochrome c oxidase ccoN gene. Changes in phytoplankton population abundances explained, on average, 30% of temporal variation in the composition of Polynucleobacter subtypes and the interaction between phytoplankton and the environment explained an additional 18% of temporal variation. The effect of phytoplankton on specific Polynucleobacter subtypes was experimentally confirmed by changes in Polynucleobacter subtype composition following incubation with different phytoplankton assemblages or a no-phytoplankton control. Phytoplankton-associated subtypes and differentiation in substrate use among subtypes likely contribute to the effects of phytoplankton on Polynucleobacter subtype composition. Interactions between unique Polynucleobacter populations and phytoplankton highlight the ecological significance and specificity of species interactions in freshwater communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-828
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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