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Shifts in microbial community structure and function in light‐ and dark‐grown biofilms driven by warming

Romaní, Anna M., Borrego, Carles M., Díaz‐Villanueva, Verónica, Freixa, Anna, Gich, Frederic, Ylla, Irene
Environmental microbiology 2014 v.16 no.8 pp. 2550-2567
Protozoa, Rotifera, bacterial communities, biofilm, biogeochemical cycles, carbohydrates, climate change, community structure, freshwater, functional diversity, grazing, prokaryotic cells, temperature
Biofilms are dynamic players in biogeochemical cycling in running waters and are subjected to environmental stressors like those provoked by climate change. We investigated whether a 2°C increase in flowing water would affect prokaryotic community composition and heterotrophic metabolic activities of biofilms grown under light or dark conditions. Neither light nor temperature treatments were relevant for selecting a specific bacterial community at initial phases (7‐day‐old biofilms), but both variables affected the composition and function of mature biofilms (28‐day‐old). In dark‐grown biofilms, changes in the prokaryotic community composition due to warming were mainly related to rotifer grazing, but no significant changes were observed in functional fingerprints. In light‐grown biofilms, warming also affected protozoan densities, but its effect on prokaryotic density and composition was less evident. In contrast, heterotrophic metabolic activities in light‐grown biofilms under warming showed a decrease in the functional diversity towards a specialized use of several carbohydrates. Results suggest that prokaryotes are functionally redundant in dark biofilms but functionally plastic in light biofilms. The more complex and self‐serving light‐grown biofilm determines a more buffered response to temperature than dark‐grown biofilms. Despite the moderate increase in temperature of only 2°C, warming conditions drive significant changes in freshwater biofilms, which responded by finely tuning a complex network of interactions among microbial populations within the biofilm matrix.