Recurring seasonal dynamics of microbial communities in stream habitats

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Hullar, M. A. J., L. A. Kaplan, and D. A. Stahl. 2006. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72:713–722.

doi: 10.1128/AEM.72.1.713-722.2006


Recurring seasonal patterns of microbial distribution and abundance in three third-order temperate streams within the southeast Pennsylvania Piedmont were observed over 4 years. Populations associated with streambed sediments and rocks (epilithon) were identified using terminal restriction length polymorphism (tRFLP) and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes selectively amplified with primers for the bacterial domain. Analyses of the relative magnitudes of tRFLP peak areas by using nonmetric multidimensional scaling resolved clear seasonal trends in epilithic and sediment populations. Oscillations between two dominant groups of epilithic genotypes, explaining 86% of the seasonal variation in the data set, were correlated with temperature and dissolved organic carbon. Sequences affiliated with epilithic phototrophs (cyanobacteria and diatom chloroplasts), a Rhodoferax sp., and a Bacillus species clustered in the summer, whereas sequences most closely related to “Betaproteobacteria” (putative Burkholderia sp.), and a putative cyanobacterium clustered in the fall/spring. The sediment genotypes also clustered into two groups, and these explained 85% of seasonal variation but correlated only with temperature. A summer tRFLP pattern was characterized by prevalence of “Betaproteobacteria,” “Gammaproteobacteria,” and a Bacillus sp., whereas the winter/spring pattern was characterized by phylotypes most closely related to “Firmicutes,” “Gammaproteobacteria,” and “Nitrospirae.” A close association between these headwater streams and their watersheds was suggested by the recovery of sequences related to microbial populations provisionally attributed to not only freshwaters but also terrestrial habitats.


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