Biome-level biogeography in streambed microbiota

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Findlay, R.H., C. Yeates, M.A.J. Hullar, D.A. Stahl, and L.A. Kaplan. 2008. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74:3014–3021.



A field study was conducted to determine the microbial community structures of streambed sediments across diverse geographic and climatic areas. Sediment samples were collected from three adjacent headwater forest streams within three biomes, eastern deciduous (Pennsylvania), southeastern coniferous (New Jersey), and tropical evergreen (Guanacaste, Costa Rica), to assess whether there is biome control of stream microbial community structure. Bacterial abundance, microbial biomass, and bacterial and microbial community structures were determined using classical, biochemical, and molecular methods. Microbial biomass, determined using phospholipid phosphate, was significantly greater in the southeastern coniferous biome, likely due to the smaller grain size, higher organic content, and lower levels of physical disturbance of these sediments. Microbial community structure was determined using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles and bacterial community structure from terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and edited (microeukaryotic PLFAs removed) PLFA profiles. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to investigate patterns in total microbial community structure. The first principal component separated streams based on the importance of phototrophic microeukaryotes within the community, while the second separated southeastern coniferous streams from all others based on increased abundance of fungal PLFAs. PCA also indicated that within- and among-stream variations were small for tropical evergreen streams and large for southeastern coniferous streams. A similar analysis of bacterial community structure indicated that streams within biomes had similar community structures, while each biome possessed a unique streambed community, indicating strong withinbiome control of stream bacterial community structure.


NSF Award No. DEB-0096276. Title: LTREB: Stream ecosystem structure and function within a maturing deciduous forest. Duration: August 1998–July 2003.

NSF Award No. DEB-0424681 Title: LTREB: Stream ecosystem structure and function within a maturing deciduous forest. Duration: August 2004–July 2009.

This research was also supported by NSF DEB-9904047.