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Changes in Sediment Bacterial Community in Response to Long-Term Nutrient Enrichment in a Subtropical Seagrass-Dominated Estuary

Guevara, Rafael, Ikenaga, Makoto, Dean, Amanda L., Pisani, Cristina, Boyer, Joseph N.
Microbial ecology 2014 v.68 no.3 pp. 427-440
Cytophagales, Desulfobulbaceae, Ectothiorhodospiraceae, Spirochaetales, bacterial communities, community structure, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, environmental factors, estuaries, marine sediments, molecular cloning, nucleotide sequences, organic matter, phylogeny, ribosomal RNA, seagrasses, Florida, Gulf of Mexico
Florida Bay exhibits a natural gradient of strong P limitation in the east which shifts to weak P or even N limitation at the western boundary. This nutrient gradient greatly affects seagrass abundance and productivity across the bay. We assessed the effects of N and P additions on sediment bacterial community structure in relation to the existing nutrient gradient in Florida Bay. Sediment samples from 24 permanent 0.25 m² plots in each of six sites across Florida Bay were fertilized with granular N and P in a factorial design for 26 months. Sediment bacterial community structure was analyzed using PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes and a cloning strategy from DGGE bands. The phylogenetic positions of 16S rRNA sequences mostly fell into common members found in marine sediments such as sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Spirochaetes, and Bacteriodetes. Twenty-eight common DGGE bands were found in all sediment samples; however, some DGGE bands were only found or were better represented in eastern sites. Bacterial community diversity (Shannon-Weiner index) showed similar values throughout all sediment samples. The N treatment had no effect on the bacterial community structures across the bay. Conversely, the addition of P significantly influenced the bacterial community structure at all but the most western site, where P is least limiting due to inputs from the Gulf of Mexico. P additions enhanced DGGE band sequences related to Cytophagales, Ectothiorhodospiraceae, and Desulfobulbaceae, suggesting a shift toward bacterial communities with increased capability to degrade polymeric organic matter. In addition, a band related to Deferribacteres was enhanced in eastern sites. Thus, indigenous environmental conditions were the primary determining factors controlling the bacterial communities, while the addition of P was a secondary determining factor. This P-induced change in community composition tended to be proportional to the amount of P limitation obviated by the nutrient additions.